Injury Prevention with Foam Rollers

Injury Prevention with Foam Rollers

You have the tools, techniques, treatments, injury management, and mindset to keep your muscles and joints moving as you intend to. Now is the time to apply the magic of foam rollers to prevent injuries.
It just seems logical. If you know that pulleys are great at opening muscles, moving fascia, warming up soft tissue, increasing joint range of motion, and improving how your body moves, why not use the wisdom of sports medicine to prevent injuries?
What is injury prevention?
Many of us have this sport or activity that we love to do. Everything about sports seems to blend in with us as a person. We are satisfied with that. It blends in well with our schedule and our friends. In a crazy way, our sport is “getting us”.
We always use our single primary sport for many reasons:
stress management
Weight loss
strength training
Socialization
Social media posts
Time away from work, kids, in-laws, finances, homework, home projects, to-do lists, etc.
conspiracy
creative thinking
All of these reasons are perfect motivators to get out and get moving. But there’s one problem: using one sport or activity too often, for a long time, and for many reasons has a very strong tendency to alter the muscle balance in your body. Stronger muscles get stronger and tighter, while weaker muscles get weaker and longer.
It’s the perfect formula for an overactive injury.
In addition, when muscle imbalances worsen over time, a person’s posture exhibits those imbalances. Have you noticed how you can tell a person’s sport by the way they stand and walk? They only seem to have the “look” of a runner, basketball player, or CrossFitter. What you see is a muscular imbalance in their posture.
Injury prevention is the process of reducing the risk and/or severity of physical harm.
If we wanted to prevent all injuries to anyone, we wrapped them in bubbles, locked them in a padded room, and implemented 100 percent abstinence. That would definitely be an overkill for injury prevention.
Instead, I focus on smart prevention of injuries above and below the neck. In other words, I educate the person about the science of injury prevention and help them perform specific exercises and stretches, based on their sport or activity, to keep their muscles in balance.
Maintaining muscle balance on both sides of the joints and on both sides of the body keeps the body functioning well. Muscular imbalance, like a skewed car tire, causes everything around it to suffer. Other joints are forced to move differently. The muscles up and down change their roles to compensate. Even the spine is affected by the changes that occur around his 26 bones.
3 steps to injury prevention
Injury prevention can involve many factors that include muscles, nutrition, shoes, weather, past medical history, mentality, warm-up, cool-down, equipment, etc. Now you know that I like, no, I like to keep sports medicine tips simple and positively impactful.
Keeping with my “simpler is better” approach, I’ve boiled down injury prevention into three easy steps. Step 1 will help you identify fatigued muscles that need treatment with your new skills to open up the muscle fascia, Step 2 shares sports medicine insight into the muscles that need strengthening, and Step 3 recommends smart activities to prevent future injuries.
1. Unlock the motor muscles
With every sport, there are muscle groups that do a great deal of work. These primary motors are often referred to as agonist muscles. This name sounds too stifling to me. Instead, I call those hard-working blue collar muscles your locomotor muscles. They are the power centers in your body to get the work done so you can enjoy your favorite sports and activities. Whatever muscle or muscle group that composes the motor muscles depends on the sport.
2. Strengthen the opposing muscles
When locomotor muscles are working hard, opposing, or antagonistic, the muscles are constantly stretched and lengthened. These opposing muscles are located on the opposite side (front or back) of your body or limb. If the kinetochore muscle is on the anterior side of a limb, then the opposing muscle is on the posterior side of the limb. If the kinetochore muscle is on the front side of the body, then the opposing muscle is on the back side of the body.
The opposing muscles during certain sports are not recruited to do most of the work, such as locomotor muscles. Meanwhile, the opposing muscles are constantly lengthening, thanks to the tension from the locomotor muscles, so they tend to become very long and weaken.
Launch prevention exercises for your sport
To avoid your body returning to an imbalanced and injury-prone state after a roller treatment, practice simple, preventative exercises designed to maintain your restored muscle balance.
Let’s review the three-step plan: In Step 1, re-establish proper length of your motor muscles. In Step 2, identify opposing muscles which are too-long and too-weak and make them stronger. Here in Step 3, you’re wisely launching a movement piggybacking on Steps 1 and 2 to prevent future injuries to keep yourself in the game. In other words, to keep you in your “happy place.”
Applying the 3 steps to preventing injuries in your sport
Here’s where you apply the Three Steps to Preventing Injuries to your sport. Each sport has varying demands on your body. Each of the three steps is customized for your sport. Based on your sport below, you’ll be instructed which muscle you need to unlock, which muscles need to be strengthened, and what movements/activities you should do to prevent injuries down the road.
As always, listen to your muscles and joints. They will tell you what part of your daily routine you need to tweak or adjust. Your muscles and joints will thank you.
Running
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent running-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Hamstrings
Hip flexors
Chest—the pecs
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Reverse lunges
Bird dogs
Prone reverse flies
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Quad unlocking—See “How to Unlock the Quads with Foam Rolling.”
Lat and groin reach-out stretches
Pool running
Cycling or spinning
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent bike- or spin-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Hip flexors
Occupy
chest – chest
2. Strengthen the opposing muscles.
Bird Dogs – See “Foam Roller Exercises For The Upper Body And Stretching.”
bridges
Reverse flies vulnerable
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Hip joint open
Hydrotherapy/Swimming – Exercising in the water is a great injury prevention activity for athletes and non-athletes alike. It’s time to have fun, whether you’re swimming, running at the deep end with a flotation device turned on, walking the shallow end, or just cranking your arms and legs against the water resistance.
Lie face up on a Swiss ball – Lying flat on a large ball (3 to 5 feet in diameter) is a heavenly position for a cyclist or a person after sitting for a long time. If you think about it, putting face down on a Swiss ball (lower spine extension) is exactly the opposite position for a cyclist (lower spine flexion). Lying on your stomach on a Swiss ball will lengthen your thigh muscles, lengthen your thigh muscles, and relax your abdominal muscles.
Weight training in the gym
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent injuries associated with weight training:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
chest – chest
biceps
lats
2. Strengthen the opposing muscles.
Rowing with gangs
Reverse flies vulnerable
Standing delta raises
3. Perform prevention exercises.
The stretch extends to the waist or thigh area
External Resistance Shoulder Rotation – Learn to master these exercises because they are essential strength exercises for every active person. With the resistance generated from the other side of the body by means of a rubber exercise band, cable machine, or old-fashioned manual resistance, forcefully rotate the lower part of your arm outward with the elbow flexed to 90 degrees and the inside of the elbow firmly attached to your ribs directly under your armpit. Keep the movement slow in both directions and the resistance high enough for 8 to 12 reps per set for 3 to 5 sets.
Yoga / Flexibility Classes – Commit to improving your posture with a flexibility expert. As a cyclist, your quadriceps and quadriceps get strong, short and tight. Yoga or flexibility classes will help you “reverse charge” to make your thigh muscles strong, long and loose.
swimming
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent swimming-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
chest – chest
lats
extensors lower back
2. Strengthen the opposing muscles.
Rowing with gangs
Reverse flies vulnerable
crunches

3. Perform prevention exercises.
Lat or groin reach-out stretches
Chest or pecs stretches
Swimming the backstroke—Swimming the backstroke is a smart way to reverse your shoulder muscle firing patterns. The backstroke naturally adds balance to the muscles and fascia on the front/back of the chest/upper back as well as with your all-important rotator cuff.
Basketball
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent basketball-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Quads
Calves
Groin
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Bridges
Wall sits, with toes off the ground
Side planks
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Lat or groin reach-out stretches
Pool running or swimming
Bike riding—Bike riding is good for both your body and mind. It’s easy on your joints with a reduction in compression, it can get you outside with the wind in your face, and it has a magical skill to make you feel half your age! Who can resist smiling and feeling less stressed when riding an outdoor bike? Not me and, hopefully, not you.
Golf
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent golf-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Chest — the pecs
Abs
Hip flexors
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Prone reverse flies
Bird dogs
Bridges
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Chin tucks (see figure)
Lat or groin reach-out stretches
Lying face-up on a Swiss ball
Soccer
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent soccer-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Quads
Groin
Calves
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Bridges
Side planks
Wall sits, with toes off the ground
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Hip flexor stretches
Calf stretches
Bird dogs
Tennis
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent tennis-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Lats
Groin
Quads
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Prone reverse flies
Side planks
Bridges
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Iliotibial band (ITB) stretches—See “Lower Body Foam Roller Workouts and Stretches.”
Lat or groin reach-out stretches
Lying face-up on a Swiss ball
Gym cardio
Here’s how to apply the three steps to prevent gym cardio-related injuries:
1. Unlock the motor muscles.
Quads
Hip flexors
Calves
2. Strengthen opposing muscles.
Bird dogs
Bridges
Wall sits, with toes off the ground
3. Perform prevention exercises.
Front planks
Hip flexor stretches
Groin stretches