• Paul McGovern

A crappy article from a source I used to trust – GQ on foam rolling

Foam rollers, according to GQ, are for lovers. I thought this was worth a click – I’ve got a foam roller, I wanted to see if this article could tell me anything useful.

I was disappointed.

A green foam roller on a shiny wooden floor
Foam roller – credit pexels.com

It does serve quite effectively as an advert for a “Fascia and Alignment specialist” (only $595 for an appointment at the time of writing! Roll up!).

GQ quotes this ‘specialist’ as saying:

“Using a roller will make you more efficient in every movement you do…It will help you roll away density, scar tissue, and knots that build up in your body, lubricate joints, and reduce inflammation in the body while increasing flexibility and range of motion.”

According to the ‘specialist’s’ FAQ, this originated from “another pioneer, Ida Pauline Rolf.” So far, so modest. Ida Rolf ‘pioneered’ rolfing, or ‘structural integration,’ which was comprehensively reviewed (pdf) by the Australian government. It found no evidence for effectiveness for this treatment. For any clinical condition.

Back to our $595-a-pop expert. They say they have a degree in Nutrition and Physiology and are ‘certified in structural integration,’ which as we’ve seen, has no evidence to support its use. Nutrition and physiology are proper scientific disciplines, no doubt, but are only tangentially related to therapeutic treatments of this type. I wouldn’t get a nutritionist to fix my funny walk any more than I’d get a physicist to sort out my diet.

Now, up to this point, GQ could say they’re only reporting what the ‘expert’ says. Unfortunately the article goes on to say “But, like [Bruno] Mars…[foam rolling]…can’t really be for everyone, right? Turns out, like “Uptown Funk,” it can be.”

Perhaps I’ve misunderstood here, and been distracted by lazy writing and terrible similes. But it looks to me very much like GQ is supporting the use of a pseudoscience-based ‘therapy,’ based nothing more on the say-so of a practitioner of said therapy; who makes claims for the therapy which are pretty incredible; who has a clear financial interest in promoting the therapy.

No other sources are cited. This from GQ, owned by Condé Nast, which describes itself as “a premier media company renowned for producing the highest quality content for the world’s most influential audiences.”

I’d have hoped for better.

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