The Single Best Thing You’re Probably Not Doing


I’m typically very skeptical (if not cynical) about fitness trends and gimmicks.  Did anyone ever get anything from the Thighmaster other than a lingering feeling that they were swindled?

Slender thighs for 3 easy payments of 19.95….really?

Lots of products and programs have come and gone over the years with very few standing the test of time.  But, there is something that will be with us for good – foam rolling.  Let me introduce you to the single best piece of fitness equipment I’ve found in my 17+ years as a trainer:

That is a high density, molded foam roller.  No, I’m not joking!  It’s really that good.  For those of you who have used one, you know how fantastic a tool it is.  For those of you who have no idea what it is or what it’s for, here’s the low down…

Foam rollers are massage tools that improve and maintain muscle tissue quality.  They can alleviate trigger points, overactive / tight muscles, and  myofascial adhesions, but the bottom line is that using them helps you feel better and move better.  It’s the next best thing to having a massage therapist at your beck and call.

Why do you need to worry about muscle tissue quality?  Well, good muscle tissue quality goes a long way to helping you feel better and get the most out of your workouts.  Think of it this way – you should be able to push on any muscle in your body and feel pressure, but not pain.  That suggests good tissue quality.  If there is pain with pressure, it indicates a problem that needs some help.  When there are problems in muscles, you feel worse and you won’t get the most out of your exercise.  So, instead of feeling beat up all the time, bring on the foam roller!  Using the roller on problem muscles will improve their quality and function and you’ll feel much better.

Need proof….?  Try this, especially if you’re stuck at a desk all day long:

Sit on the roller on one hip and cross the same side leg up over the other (sitting on right hip, cross right leg up).  You may have to roll forward and backward to find the spot, but there’s a very good chance that there’s something there that will make you jump.  The first time I did this, I was amazed at how much discomfort and tenderness was hiding out in those muscles!

Once you find a tender spot, stay on it for about 30 seconds or until you feel the discomfort subside.  It may not go away completely with one application, but doing this repeatedly will significantly improve your muscles.  As with everything exercise related, check with your physician to make sure it’s safe for you to foam roll.  You should NOT foam roll if you have any of the following conditions:

(from NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist text)

Once you’re cleared, do yourself a favor; get a foam roller and learn how to use it!  As always, please post a comment if you have a question or to let me know how it went.

Learn something new!


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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

6 Responses to “The Single Best Thing You’re Probably Not Doing”

  1. dave says:

    I did this last night for my soleus muscles, which the last few days have been so sore, it’s been bordering on pain. This morning: no soreness! Amazing. Now that I’ve walked around a bit, there’s a little bit of stiffness creeping back in, but the difference is really amazing.
    I realize this sounds like a too-good-to-be-true story, which I generally despise. But hey, I got the foam roller for free (an incentive from a different program), and I wasn’t doing anything with my legs while eating dinner anyways… 🙂

    • Mike Bento says:

      That’s great! People must think I have stock in foam rollers because I go on and on about how great they are, but they really are that good. Simple, easy to use and very effective for taking care of muscle tissue – seems like a win-win situation to me. I love that you did it while eating dinner!
      By the way, if the stiffness creeps back, try it every night for the rest of the week and follow the roller with some light stretching and I’d bet it gets much better 🙂

  2. Mike Bento says:

    I’ll post more of the “usual suspect” muscles that tend to benefit a lot from the foam roller.

  3. Emarie1564 says:

    Sounds great! I hope you give us some more Foam Rolling exercises soon.

    • Michael Bento MS, CES, PES, CSCS says:

      I’ll post more of the “usual suspect” muscles that tend to benefit a lot from the foam roller.