Campus Commons PT - January 2021


You can probably find at least a couple foam rollers at any local gym across the country, and typing in “foam roller” on Amazon will give you thousands of results. They’re a popular tool for preventing and alleviating aches and pains before and after workouts — but do you understand exactly how they work or how they benefit our muscles as a part of our workout? Chances are that if you use a foam roller, you’re doing so because someone else told you to. They’re not harmful by any means, and they can feel very relaxing when you’re warming up or cooling down from a workout. That said, understanding why this tool is so popular among fitness buffs and physical therapists can help you discern how helpful it can be for your workout. The primary reason foam rollers are so popular is because they seem to make muscles more receptive to stretching and moving. The sustained pressure of the foam roller on your muscles signals your central nervous system to reduce tension, kind of like a deep tissue massage — at least, that’s the running theory. While foam rollers do seem to relieve tension and soreness in the muscles, the truth is that no one quite knows how it happens. So, if it’s unclear exactly how foam rollers work, how did they end up in every single gym and millions of homes? In the early 20th century, engineer and physicist Moshe Feldenkrais pioneered what’s known as the “Feldenkrais method,” intended to help people improve their posture.

While it’s not clear if the Feldenkrais method itself is beneficial, practitioners of his method first used foam rollers to improve posture and balance. Then, in the 1990s, physical therapist Mike Clark brought them to the gym floor, advocating for their use in much of his writings. His words had an impact on the fitness community, because 2004 saw the first foam roller

patent. After that, their popularity only grew.

Even if there’s not a clear scientific answer as to why foam rollers work so well for alleviating soreness, their popularity indicates that they do have their benefits and that they’re not going anywhere.



This sweet and spicy rice bowl comes together in just 30 minutes and serves four.


• • • • • • • •

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp gochujang sauce, or more if desired

2 tsp light brown sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

• • •

3 cups cooked brown rice 1 small cucumber, sliced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1 lb lean ground beef

1/2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus more for topping

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

2 scallions, thinly sliced


1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, 2 tbsp water, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. 2. Spray a deep, nonstick skillet with cooking oil and place over high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. 3. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the meat and cook for 1 minute.

4. Pour sauce over the beef, then cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. 5. Divide rice evenly into four serving bowls. Top each with scant 2/3 cup beef, cucumber slices, sesame seeds, scallions, and gochujang, to taste.

Inspired by

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