Sunday, December 30, 2012

Product Report: Fresh Wave - your stinky shoe solution

By: Colleen Moyer

One question I get often at FootZone is "How do I get rid of the smell coming from my husbands shoes". Sorry guys. I really never had a good answer. Well, now I do. Fresh Wave!

We have two choices for you, a spray or a bag of 4 packs. The spray can be applied to shoes, stinky workout clothes and even pet odors. The bags can be placed in shoes, lockers, gym bag or wherever there is an odor.

It's an all-natural odor eliminator that actually works. The ingredients are water, lime, pine needle, aniseed, clove and cedar wood. It's that simple. Spray sales for $6 and the packs are $12.

Fresh Wave is perfect for non-sock wearing, old shoe loving, extra sweaty or just plain-old stinky feet people (we know that’s not you). Not everyone has this problem, but if you do, you have to give Fresh Wave a try!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Surviving the Holidays

By: Stephanie Howe, doctoral candidate, ACSM

Ah, holiday season is upon us. Snow. Family. Food. Parties. Stress.

The holidays are a time for celebration and enjoyment, but they can also be challenging. Especially if you are trying to stay in shape. Finding time to fit in a run or eat healthy despite all the holiday temptations, can be difficult.

So, how can you stay motivated to keep active during such a busy time? With a little planning and preparation you can successfully get through the holidays and stay sane. Here are some simple tips to help you start planning: 

1. Take some time for yourself each day. It can be as little as 10 minutes. Use this time to unwind, clear your mind, and de-stress.

2. Be active as a family. The holidays are a time to spend with family, but who says you can’t be active? Plan something fun, such as going for a walk to look at Christmas lights, building a snowman, sledding, etc. Crummy weather? No problem. Get active indoors! Try out one of the athletic facilities in town, check out a yoga class, try out the Bend circus center or the family fun center- the choices are endless.

3. Indulge mindfully.  Allow yourself to enjoy a few of your favorite holiday treats in moderation. Remember that the holidays do not give you permission to gorge yourself on sugar. However, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid all seasonal goodies. Just pick some of your favorites and savor the taste.

4. Mix it up. Instead of trying to force a run out in the snow, try something different. Seasonal activities like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, sledding, alpine skiing, etc. can be really fun in the winter.

5. Take it easy on the alcohol. Drinking lots of wine/beer/cocktails on top of all the extra holiday sweets can make you feel even worse. For every alcoholic drink try to drink a glass of water in between. Drinking lots of alcohol can easily (and sneakily) increase your calorie consumption. Sip alcoholic drinks and don’t be afraid to say no!

6. Relax and let yourself enjoy the holiday season! This is maybe the most important thing. The holiday season should be enjoyable, not stressful. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to get out of your normal routine for a couple days. It’s ok if you don’t get a run every day or you eat more Christmas cookies than you planned. Just get back on track the next day.

7. Set Goals. Now is a good time to start thinking about the upcoming year. Maybe you want to run a half marathon? Or start eating healthier? Whatever it is you want to improve upon, setting a goal is the best way to hold yourself accountable and make progress.

Want to learn more about surviving the holidays or goal setting? Check out for individualized coaching and healthy lifestyle plans.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Gift of Running: Learn to Run with Connie Austin

By: Connie Austin
‘Tis the season to give …  the gift of running!
Why not give yourself, a co-worker, your employees, or a loved one the opportunity to make running a healthy habit in 2013?   Learn to Run! 
When I tell someone I teach the Learn to Run program at the FootZone, I often see their eyebrows furrow, and with a scrunched up face reply, “What do you mean you TEACH running?  Isn’t it just natural?” Yes, running is a natural motion for humans.  Yet most people run inefficiently and end up frustrated, injured, or so discouraged they quit and declare, “I can’t run.” 

By learning a few running and walking fundamentals, people in the Learn to Run program are often surprised beyond belief with their newly found competence on the first day! Soon, they can run farther than ever before, be free of pain or injury, and accomplish goals like finishing a 5k or losing weight!   Most important of all, we make sure to HAVE FUN!  This isn’t a boot camp or a training group.  Everyone practices at their own pace either walking, running or a combination of both.  Any speed is welcomed and given plenty of encouragement and support.  

Learning to perform any task correctly takes attention to form, technique, and proper use of equipment.  You may drive a car, but are you driving it with efficiency?  Is the emergency brake off? Are you shifting at the right time? You may fancy yourself as a great cook, but are you using your kitchen knives correctly?  Running properly takes some practice and knowledge of the tricks of the trade. 

Footzone ‘s Learn to Run class, now in it’s fourth year, is the perfect place for people who have tried and quit running, don’t like to run, want to begin a walking/running program, are fearful or skeptical about starting, or who need the camaraderie of a group to get up and go for it.  Over 1,000 people from age 7 to over 70, in the past 3 years bear witness to its success.  

The beauty of this program is the power for personal change within the context of a non-competitive, nurturing group environment.  Learning a life changing habit in community with others, brings support, confidence, and accountability for each individual. Research and experience show that people demonstrate greater success with guided repetition in a group environment, much better than in isolation.  Sure you can read a book about running correctly, and try it out on your own, but meeting with your running buddies and coach on a regular practice schedule will bring better returns for your effort. 

Another critical component to our success comes from the helpful FootZone staff and our running mentors.   Our mentors in the group are former Learn to Run students who have previously taken the class and know how the beginners feel.  They can share their success through telling their own story, or by example of being the runner they are today. 

January brings the beginning of a new Learn to Run session, and like all successful programs, after some evaluation, we’re tweaking it a bit to make it even better.  This year the class runs for 4 weeks, meeting one hour twice a week.  This allows more weekly group practice and time for outside presentations from local experts.

I love teaching this class, and implementing my Run Ready Formula to make learning to run fun and meaningful.  Often, prior to the first week of class, I receive phone calls and e-mails from nervous and curious folks with these common questions:

I’m overweight, is this class still for me?  Yes! You will learn all the fundamentals to apply to your fitness level as you are ready.  Most likely, you’ll begin by walking, then start running for 30 seconds, take a walk break, then run again in short intervals allowing your breath and body to be your guide.  Eventually you will increase your running spurts, seconds, steps or minutes at a time.  This is how some people started who went on to run half marathons and marathons. 
I have an old injury (knee, hip, head, ankle etc..) and am afraid I’ll reinjure myself if I run.  Can I still take this class? Yes!     We take great care to be sure your body is moving efficiently and you are pacing yourself correctly so you do not reinjure yourself.  Chances are, once you learn how to run properly, and you become stronger, your injury will bother you less and less. 

I’ve never run before and I’m a total beginner, is this class for me? ABSOLUTELY!  Your experience, age, size, shape, gender, or any other trait won’t hinder your ability to learn to run if you are willing!  80% of SUCCESS is just SHOWING UP!

How does the Learn to Run class differ from the Good Form Running clinics?  Good Form Running (GFR) emphasizes form only in a one-shot lecture, video, and practice format.  The class is free and offered each month. 

The LTR program is a series of classes designed for in depth, step by step (no pun intended) lessons that include proper running form, coaching, nutrition, hydration, injury-prevention,  hill running, keeping a running journal, and more.  The other big bonus for participants is a bunch of cool running gear and a store discount to jack up your motivation.
I look forward to meeting the new runners at our next class beginning Monday, January 14th at 5:30 at the FootZone!   
For more information, attend the quick LTR information night, Wednesday January 9th from 5:30 – 6:00pm. I’ll be there to answer any questions and help people sign up.

Register now at FootZone or contact Connie Austin.


Coach Connie Austin developed the Run Ready program and has been an educator, runner and coach for over 30 years.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Run A Road Half Marathon In Training For A Trail Ultra?

By Ian Sharman
Sharman running in Lake Tahoe
A lot of ultrarunners focus on mountain races and therefore mainly train by running trails and mountains. That’s certainly important as training needs to be specific to whatever your goals are.


However, as an ultrarunning coach I’ve seen both in theory and in practice that this often leads to a runner slowing down. Yes, the ability to climb and descend gets better, but the pace on easier trails goes down. And most ultras have a lot of faster running in there as well as some climbs to slow things down a bit.


So, even though most people are unlikely to hit their half marathon road speed in a trail ultra, by working on the uncomfortable pace close to your lactate threshold (as a half marathon does), you force your body to adapt and be able to sustain a higher pace when on long runs. Your lactate threshold is basically the exercise intensity where lactic acid starts to accumulate in the blood, when lactate is produced faster than it can be removed. Effectively, this causes a runner to slow down so the higher this boundary can be pushed, the higher his or her sustainable pace becomes.


If you can make 6-minute/miles feel easier (or 7s, 9s, 11s etc) at the high end then it really helps to make cruising speed more efficient too in a really long run.


So why is a half marathon particularly good for this type of training? There are two main reasons for this:


1. Half marathon pace is fast enough to get close to your lactate threshold and push that boundary out so you can run faster, plus it is a long enough race that you have to push hard for a sustained period.


2. It's short enough that it doesn't take too long to recover from for a regular runner, certainly less time than a marathon.


Admittedly, guys with incredibly fast sub 2:20 marathon times haven't generally done as well in 100 milers as their speed would suggest. But it's the combination of the flat out speed and trail fitness that counts. Put a Kenyan Olympian on a mountainous 100-miler without specific training and they'd obviously not be bad, but they wouldn't automatically be the best unless they trained well for and adapted extremely well to the specifics of a mountain ultra (the same applies in the other direction but is more obvious to people and has been more tried and tested).


Speed training can be done on trails and hill work is similar in many ways, but if you like roads then they can really help as part of trail ultra training.
Ian Sharman is a local Bend ultrarunner and coach, best known for running the fastest trail 100 miler in US history in 12h44m. His blog includes training tips, photography and race reports from around the globe at"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tuesday Performance Group: why you should be going.

By Liz Fancher

Liz Fancher & Dave Webster at The Dirty Half
A few years ago, my “speedy runner guy” husband Dave Webster joined TPG – the Tuesday Performance Running Group.  Every Tuesday evening, he spent an hour doing “speed work” or “running hills” with a group of dedicated runners.  He ran in Drake Park, on Overturf Butte and at the track.  In the winter, he’d run after dark in Farewell Bend Park!

About half a year later, my husband asked me to join him at TPG workouts.  I told him “I am not a speed demon runner.  My body does not have a single fast-twitch muscle.”  I thought: “Why would I want to humiliate myself by running with a group of speed demon runners in the cold and dark?”   

I agreed to try running with TPG once in a while.  I thought I would hate it but that it would be “good for me.”  Once I went, I discovered that I really like TPG.  I enjoy challenging myself.  I like running with a group of nice runners.  I like running with the TPG group every week.   The time flies by.    

Over the last few years, I’ve continued running with TPG.  Here is what TPG has taught me:

·        I am stronger than I think.

·        I run faster when I run with a group. 

·        It is OK to be one of the slowest runners.

·        Running with faster runners encourages me to push harder and to run faster.


Coach Max
Here is what TPG has done for me:

·        I’ve taken 10 minutes off my half marathon time in the period of one year.

·        I can run races at a steady pace, without crashing.

·        I can pick up my pace at the end of a run or a race.

·        I’ve started to enjoy racing.

·        I feel uplifted after most workouts.

·        Best of all, I can tell folks that Max King coaches my running group.  This makes folks think I run fast!

TPG is filled with a lot of nice, supportive people.  Kari Strang even brought cupcakes to TPG to celebrate my birthday!  TPG allows me the fun of cheering for other TPG runners at our regular workouts and races.  I’ve enjoyed following the progress and successes of other TPG runners over the years. 

Max King is a great coach.  He is a thoughtful, intelligent man who offers interesting, varied and “do-able” workouts.  He offers a “short” workout and a “long” workout so you can pick the one that works for you.  So, if you are interested in running stronger and a bit faster come join us on Tuesday.  TPG is free so what do you have to lose? 

The Tuesday Performance Group meets every Tuesday at 5:30. Locations vary, for more information email

Stay informed and hear from local runners at the FootZone Blog.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Form Running: 180 Steps Per Minute

Winters is upon us here in Central Oregon and with it comes cooler days, snow covered trails, and the end to a busy racing season. Without the pressure of your next track workout or hill repeats looming, winter is also a great time to get back to basics. Now is a great time to jump into a Good Form Running class, and set yourself up for the rest of the winter. Working on technique now can pay big dividends down the road, keeping you injury free and running faster than ever come next spring.

One of the big things we talk about with Good Form Running is the importance of cadence. I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, that 180 steps per minute is the magic number. But why is that the case?

As a PT who works with people who have a variety of musculo-skeletal and neuro-muscular issues, I am always looking for the one little thing that can alleviate many of the patient’s symptoms. Think about it, if I can have you do one thing, and it takes care of three of your symptoms, you are psyched because you only have to remember one thing.  I am psyched because I know, with only one thing to concentrate on, you will get better, quicker. These kinds of situations don’t come around very often, but with running, the 180 steps per minute is one of those times!

We know that there are four things that are the hallmark of a good runner. Decreased vertical displacement (up and down movement), decreased impact force when your foot hits the ground, decreased contact time, and 180 steps per minute.  What is great, is that when you run at 180 steps per minute, all of those other variables start to fall into place.

But why is that? The best way for me to describe it is to talk about a subject that is near and dear to my heart, Physics. Wave physics, to be precise. We know that as you increase the frequency of a wave, eventually, you will get closer to a flat line.  The 180 steps per minute is the frequency at which your vertical displacement minimizes. Flat head equals faster running. Sweet!

Flat head also equates to decreased impact force. When your foot hits the ground, the forces transmitted through the body are many times your body weight. Well, think about yourself bobbing down the trail, with 2-3 inches of vertical displacement. The impact forces increase exponentially. By running at 180 steps per minute, vertical displacement decreases, impact forces decrease, you run faster! Bonus!

Last, but not least, the 180 steps per minute results in decreased contact time. Seems like common sense, eh? Faster cadence results in less contact for each foot. It is pretty simple. However, when you dig deeper, thinking about how that increased cadence is achieved, leads to a better understanding of what running really is, mechanically. To maintain 180 steps per minute, you have to actually flex your hips (bring your knees up) and not pay as much attention to forcefully extending your legs to drive yourself forward. Running is similar to walking, and to walk, you lift your leg at the hip and place it forward. When running becomes an extension based activity, it is almost impossible to maintain 180 steps per minute because the leg is left too far behind. With that extension, you also see increased vertical displacement, increased impact force, and less than 180 steps per minute. Not to mention poor abdominal and pelvic stability with running, hamstring and calf issues, Achilles tendonitis, etc.  Think about running more like a sprinter (mechanically, of course), even though you are a half marathoner, and you will maintain 180 steps per minute, even while running a 12 minute mile.

So there you have it! The silver bullet is 180 steps per minute. Get out there, give it a shot, see what you think.  You can even get an app that will overlay the 180 beat over your music. If that doesn’t drive you crazy, nothing will J  Cheers! - Dave

Written by: David Cieslowski, DPT
Join Dave for Good Form Running Clinic Level 2, Tuesday, December 4th at FootZone.

Dave’s love of snow and cross-country ski racing brought him west from New England to Park City, Utah. While in Park City, Dave continued to ski race and teach. With continued success as a cross-country racer, Dave raced for XC Oregon from ’99 until ’05 and was very competitive in both local and national level races. Dave also participated in multiple bike and adventure races. Picking up where he left off in Park City, Dave worked for various outdoor entities in Bend while remaining active in the Nordic ski community. After graduating with distinction from PT school at Pacific University in Portland, Dave returned to Bend with his family, excited to be involved in the central Oregon community.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We don't have every i dotted and t crossed from I LIKE PIE on Thanksgiving morning but close enough to share some of the numbers.  Drum roll please................

1600 people registered-  This one blew us away.  Last year was about 800/900.  We knew it would be bigger but more than 700 of you signed up on Wednesday and Thursday alone.  Crazy!

5,500 pounds of food for NeighborImpact - That's an impressive amount of food, especially compared to the 3800lbs from last year.  Nice work.

$10,000+ for NeighborImpact.  As you know, the registration fee for I Like Pie is simply a donation to NeighborImpact.  The only expenses for this event are t-shirts, insurance, porta potties, pie serving supplies, and a $500 donation to the Bend High Culinary Program for their help serving pie (we more than cover these expenses with tee-shirt sales).  Every other penny goes to NeighborImpact.  Last year we raised $5800 so this year was a big improvement.  And yes, many people sign up without making a donation but that's OK.  Far more do contribute and we've intentionally left it as on option. 

Pie-  We didn't get an exact pie count this year but 160 signed up to bring pie and Sweet Home AlaMode made and brought a lot of extra pie.  If you saw the tables, there was A LOT of pie.  Good thing because we ate all of it but 2 pies!  Those went to Shepherds House.

Pie Baking Contest-  So many unbelievable entrants this year.  Thank You all.
The winners were as follows:

Traditional Category.  1st - Alisa Allen (apple), 2nd - Jodie Barram (blueberry -gluten free) 3rd - Louise Wilson (pumpkin).

Open Category-  1st - Kristina Miller (coconut cream), 2nd - Vivian Height (chocolate espresso), 3rd Dana Bennett - (pie pops)

Most Beautiful - Liz Bloom (apple)

Most Creative - Dana Bennett (pie pops)

Many Thanks - To Sweet Home Alamode for taking the reigns of the pie baking contest this year.  To Bellatazza, Lone Pine Coffee, Strictly Organic Coffee, Crow's Feet Commons for contributing coffee and atmosphere to this years event.  To the Bend High Culinary Program for all the help serving pie.  To the entire crew at FootZone for all their work putting this on, especially Melanie, Angela, Colleen, Marybel, Rob, Max, Dave, and Teague.  Thanks also to all the volunteers who helped out at t-shirt pick up and on Thanksgiving Day.

Special Thanks to NeighborImpact for doing such vital work in this community.

This run started 7 years ago as a Thanksgiving FootZone fun run with about 50 people and has grown into something far more.  We're not looking for it to grow too much more since we still want to enjoy our family and friends on Thanksgiving.  That said, we love it and love that the community loves it.  If you'd like to help out planning next year or have ideas on how to make it better (without keeping the organizers out there longer on Thanksgiving) please let us know.

Thanks for reading and thanks for liking PIE!
Rob reveling in his judging responsibilities.
Add "pie judge" to Max's resume!
Yes, we have awesome volunteers.
ILP might not make his "top events" list this year!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

They Keep The Boys Warm!

Today at Footzone Jenny asked me if I had ever used the Craft Pro Wind Stopper Gunde Boxer Shorts. I almost had to laugh; every winter day was the correct response.  I wear them running, skiing, biking, hiking, and any other activity where I fear that ‘the boys’ might get cold.

I didn’t used to wear the Craft Wind Briefs. I never saw the purpose of spending $40+ on a pair of underwear. What are they made of gold? How can they be that special? Let me tell you a little story that changed my opinions on Wind Briefs:

I used to ski race fairly competitively. I raced all over the US and Europe, sometimes in very cold places. One of these racing trips took me to Fairbanks, AK. It was warm by Fairbanks standards at about 10F. We had a short 10km classic race on Friday and longer races the next few days. Back then I only owned one pair of wind briefs and of an inferior brand. I choose not to wear them for that race so they’d be clean on the colder longer days. Halfway through the race I knew I had made a mistake and ‘the boys’ were not doing well. You know that feeling when your hands are so cold they tingle & burn? OK imagine that same feeling down below on a much more sensitive part of your body… I removed one glove and shoved it down the front of my pants. I figured if something is going to get frostbite and fall off I’d rather lose a hand and I didn’t need my left hand that bad anyways.

Luckily I finished the race and did not lose any body parts. I did spend the next hour or so in the team van in the fetal position crying from the pain. I got minor frost-nip (what the Alaskan’s say for pre-frostbite) and learned a valuable lesson.

After that experience I went on a shopping rampage. I bought every brand of Wind Brief known to man. That pain was never going to happen to me again. What I learned is that every brand is better than nothing. However not all are the same. Craft is the hands down winner. I prefer the longer boxer style for comfort and warmth. I now wear them anytime the temperature is below 32.

My reasons for choosing them:

-        Warmth. The Boys are warm in all weather conditions. This is very important!

-        No weggies. I’m not sure why, but every other brand rides so bad that you might as well get a prostate exam while they are up there. Craft respects that part of your body and stays out.

-        Duribility. I still own and wear the same pair I first bought in 2001. I’ve now got 4 pairs and they are all worn each week from November-March. That is a lot of abuse and they are all going strong.

-        Comfort. Craft makes nice soft polypro.  It feels good on your skin.

-        Lack of odor. Not sure how, but they don’t get the same stank nastiness as some brands of polypro. I wouldn’t recommend wearing them many days in a row, but when snow camping, it happens. These hold up much better than you’d expect…

-        Work in all activities. Great for running, skiing, hiking, probably snowshoeing. They work on the bike, but not as awesome as other activities.

If you are a guy doing winter sports, you should own these. If you have a special guy that does winter sports and you value his manhood not getting frozen, I’d recommend these as a great Christmas gift. Look everybody wins!
By Zach Violett

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

JFK 50 Mile Race Report

I’ll be honest, I came into this race feeling pretty confident. I mean, after UROC (iRF interview) I had a good reason to, but I definitely had to temper that feeling of invincibleness with the fact that both my other attempts at 50 miles had ended in a death slog to the finish. They were two and three years ago…
Read the rest here.

Charging Hard on the Towpath

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Vacation Run: Finding Familiarity in a Foreign Country

One of my husband and my favorite parts of vacation is running in a new place.  It is the perfect way to see the sights from a different perspective.  So when I planned my dream trip to Ireland recently, it seemed only natural that our running gear would go with us.  I would be celebrating my 50th Birthday during our trip and decided I needed something special, (as if Ireland isn’t special enough,) to commemorate turning 50.  As I searched the usual festivals and events I came up with the idea of running a race in Ireland.  I became obsessed with finding something that fit our schedule.  I found the “almost” perfect 10K in Dublin, “The Great Pink Run”.  Like a lot of you, I love participating in a run for a charity that has a personal connection.   Almost perfect because it was taking place the day we had planned to arrive in Dublin.  Since I had not booked our flights yet I decided we could be flexible.   Actually my husband would not agree with that statement, since he had to change his vacation request to accommodate my new “I have to do this or my Birthday will be ruined” idea!

Needless to say schedules were changed and we landed in Dublin 2 days prior to race day.  We were so busy sightseeing and enjoying the Guinness, those 2 days went by quickly.  Since we didn’t have a car our 1st challenge was getting to the start soon enough.  The day started rainy and windy so naturally we had our very sturdy raincoats on.  As we stood at the bus stop trying to figure out the best route, a man approached asking if we needed help.  Thinking we were being very discreet about our dilemma, I asked him how he knew we were tourists.  Oddly enough it was our raincoats; he said Irish people don’t wear “raincoats”.  I said, “Doesn’t it rain almost every day?”  He said, “Well, we don’t stand in the rain”, fair enough!  He then proceeded to get us on the right bus and directed us to the tram stop that would take us the race start. 

As we waited, the sea of pink told us we were indeed heading in the right direction.  But, from this point on we realized we had not arrived soon enough.   While Steve got in the packet pick-up line (apparently we missed PPU the day before, I blame the Guinness) I started off in the direction of the dreaded outhouse line.   I had good reason to dread it; the line was the longest I have ever seen at a run.  Fortunately the rain had stopped, but it was chilly.  This was the 2nd year for this event and the 3000+ entries were clearly beyond what the organizers expected.    The start was delayed 40 minutes because of the “Loo” line.

As a fan of local races I was really looking forward to seeing what might be different about a race in a foreign country.   The crowds were great, the swag bag was familiar, and attendance for the awards was non-existent.   Turns out it was such a similar experience that I could have been right here in Bend.   Unfortunately for Steve, the biggest difference was the lack of post-race festive beverages.   He said, and I quote (the PG version), “We are in Ireland and there’s no beer?”   All in all it was a fun event to be a part of.  I went looking for a race in a foreign country for the new experience.   Oddly enough I came away feeling comforted by the familiarity and the unity with which running brings people together!

Written By FootZone staff member: Melanie Mangin

Want to share a local Bend run with your favorite out-of-towners? Bring them to I Like Pie on Thanksgiving Day and look for a race on your next trip!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On A Roll: The Benefits Of Foam Rolling

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had a bodywork specialist on call to knead our sore, tight, overworked muscles and fascia (our body’s web of connective tissue)?  Most of us don’t so, thankfully, there’s an alternative that you can do anytime in the comfort of your own home.  Using your own body weight and a cylindrical piece of foam, you can perform self-myofascial release (SMR), ironing out tight spots in your fascia and improving circulation and neurological responses in your soft tissues.

SMR has become a staple for both activity preparation and recovery for elite athletes to weekend warriors alike.  Foam rollers are an inexpensive and effective tool of choice for SMR to: improve flexibility and joint range of motion; correct muscle imbalances and alignment; minimize joint stress; reduce scar tissue accumulation and adhesions; decrease tight or overly toned muscle tissue; relieve muscle soreness and expedite recovery; and maintain normal functional muscular length.  All of this helps prevent (or rehab) an injury AND ultimately increase performance! 

The primary goal is to restore your load bearing joints to neutral alignment - a position where they are strongest, least at odds with gravity, most resilient, and able to produce the most force when called upon to do so.

 Like stretching, foam rolling doesn't yield marked improvements overnight although you’ll definitely notice immediate benefits.  The true results of foam rolling come if you stick with it.  The first couple of weeks of foam roller therapy more than likely will be uncomfortable (other less publishable descriptive words have been used) and, of course, can be a deterrent. But it can also “hurt so good”.   Keep rolling and I promise you the payoff is well worth it.  If you use the foam roller regularly, every day or every two to three days, within a couple of weeks you will begin to notice not only does the experience not hurt as much but also it will begin to feel really good like a nice deep tissue massage.  Then begin to notice how you feel during and after your runs, too.  That is when you will realize the health benefits the most. 

SMR is safe and effective for most populations with proper guidance by a trained professional.  Those recently injured or with chronic pain disease (such as fibromyalgia) or a circulatory problem should first consult a doctor. 

There is no universal agreement on when to roll, how often to roll, or how long to roll, but generally, techniques are used both before and after a workout. Foam rolling prior to a workout can help decrease muscle density, improve alignment and functional movement, and promote a better warm-up. Rolling after a workout may help muscles recover faster from strenuous exercise.  One treatment plan does not fit all so always listen to your body first.

Don’t know where to start or just need a little reminder?  The monthly FootZone FoamRoller Clinic is this Saturday, November 17th, at 8:45am.  It is a one hour introduction to Rolling for Runners guided by Ashleigh Mitchell, certified Pilates teacher specializing is self-myofascial release techniques.

Class is limited to 15 people so please register in advance at the FootZone for $5 to hold your spot.  Bring a yoga mat if you have one. Foam rollers are not provided so bring your foam roller if you have one, or purchase one at FootZone with a $5 discount for participants.
Written by Ashleigh Mitchell