Every few years (or sometimes every few months) trends in the fitness industry shift gears when one or more "gurus" starts spouting off on social media about "The Top 6 Things I've Learned in 2018," or "You're Doing XYZ Wrong - Here's How to Fix It," or some other similarly titled excrement.  Now, I admit that some of the people writing this stuff are actual legitimately knowledgeable people whom I like and/or respect.  I know they are using moronic titles like this that cater to the lowest common denominator to get likes or hits or simply as an artful form of trolling because nothing gets attention these days like an internet poo flinging fight.  I understand it's making them money, but at the same time I also believe it is contributing to a basic problem in the industry that is growing worse all the time - lack of individual thought or opinion.

Just because Coach Tallywhacker writes an article or makes a post telling you why something is right or wrong or the "correct" way to do it, does not mean it is right for you or that it is the only way to do it.  If it sounds legitimate, by all means give it a try, but then evaluate it for yourself to see if it is better than what you were doing before and if you are getting the reported benefits of it.  Don't do it or stop doing it just because someone said so or wrote something about it, no matter who the info is coming from.  I'll use foam rolling as an example.

I first learned about foam rolling more than 10 years ago when the only rollers you could get were the crappy white ones.  There were even DVDs demonstrating how to do something as simple as roll out your quads, calves, etc.  Pretty soon everyone was jumping on the foam roller bandwagon and doing it or having the clients do it.  I saw it being performed before, during, and after workouts by every type of client from little kids (who almost certainly didn't need it and weren't even heavy enough to reap any benefits) to athletes, to older adults who possibly were also inappropriate for using it for more pathological reasons.  Soon new densities of foam rollers started appearing on the market and more companies started selling them, propagating the practice, though with no more or more specific information about how and when to use it or what the benefits and detriments might be.

After about 3-4 years of this, suddenly someone, and I honestly don't know which talking head was first, wrote an article about why foam rolling was stupid and harmful and no one should be doing it.  Foam rollers were still for sale everywhere, but the number of people doing it started to drop off and you had trainers and coaches telling each other why it was dumb and dangerous and criticizing the people still using it.  It never faded out completely, but it did take a back burner for a while.

Fast forward another 3-4 years and a few well known individuals in the fitness industry with more of a rehab background started purporting specific benefits for certain people and populations.  They laid out more specifics like when to do it, how long, what the positives and negatives were, possible reasons it might not be the best choice.  This was a positive step forward because there was more transparency.  However, then a lot of the people who had stopped using it with themselves or their clients/athletes suddenly jumped back on it hardcore and a whole new wave of rollers and balls hit the market.  People were doing it willy nilly because it was new and fancy again and Dr. Dingleberry said so without really assessing if it was the best choice.

After a few years of this, the opinion of the gurus shifted once again and articles and posts touting how stupid rolling is and why the people who do it are stupid and wrong hit the internet.  Suddenly again people stopped doing it as much and openly criticized those who did it.  This is where we are now in the present day.  It has gone back and forth so much that there will always be people who do it.  There is even a large body of scientific research on it now to back up different uses and protocols with evidence-based results.  You can get a roller now in almost any color, style, shape, material, or form you want.  And no matter what you believe, there are now people who will think you're a moron for using it (or not) on yourself, your clients, or your patients.  Worse, there are people who have heard one side of the argument without any kind of investigation into either the science behind it or anecdotal evidence of those who have used it and they either demand it because they think it will fix them or they assume anyone doing it is wrong and using a dangerous practice.

Here is my take on it:

I foam roll.  Actually that's not true because I haven't used a roller made of foam since the early days of all this.  But I use PVC rollers, lax balls, products from rumble roller and accumobility, and lots of other tools including some of my own design.  From talking to people, learning all sides of the argument, reading research on it, and TRYING IT  OUT FOR MYSELF AND EVALUATING MY PERSONAL RESULTS, I know what does and does not work for me.  I know there are different mechanisms that come into play depending on how long I do it and there are different results I can achieve for either muscles, joints, blood flow, etc depending on how I use it.  I have been openly criticized by teammates in the past for doing it as part of my warmup, but the reasons they expressed for why I shouldn't do it didn't apply to me because I was not using the roller in a way (in this case for a long enough time) to cause the effect they were referring to.  I have tried stopping rolling as part of my warmup and I felt worse in some key areas like my back, hips, and knees and I had generally poorer performance and slower progress in my training without it than with it.  And when I say I tried not doing it, I mean for a few months in a row, not just for a day or a week.  So I took all the info I could get about the subject, tried different ways of doing it, and compared doing it to not doing it to see what worked best for me.  And finally, I don't go around telling people why they are right or wrong about foam rolling.  I may offer some information about the benefits or detriments of different ways of using it or whether doing it before or after training will help more with achieving a desired outcome, but ultimately I will let people make their own decisions unless they are paying me to make the decision for them, in which case I will educate them about why I am having them do it or not do it and things to watch out for that could be detrimental.  I will also take their personal opinion and wants into consideration.  If someone hates foam rolling and honestly believes it is making them worse, I will almost always take it out of their programming or rehab because it doesn't matter what I believe or know - if it makes the person believe their programming or treatment is detrimental then it will always be less effective and serve as a barrier to success.

So for the love of individuality and common sense, please don't jump on the bandwagon of the latest fads just because some internet warrior says so.  Do some research, try it yourself, and evaluate  your personal results versus what it is supposed to do or not do and make your own decisions.

Deck out.