The Foam Roller – Benefits and Uses

Foam Rollers or Stability Rolls are used for stretching, flexibility, Myofascial Release and for dynamic strengthening. Foam Rollers can be integrated into many forms of training including; functional, balance and stability, core conditioning, strength training and for rehabilitation.

Foam Rollers

What are the benefits of the Foam roller?

It can assist in:

  • Releasing tension in connective tissues
  • Prevention of injuries
  • Improving blood circulation throughout skin, muscles and tendons
  • Helping to mobilise the spine
  • Increasing core stability and flexibility
  • Improving balance, posture, proprioception and co-ordination.

The foam roller is:

  • Easy to store
  • Versatile
  • Effective
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Simple to use


When can a foam roller be used?

  • Individually, with a personal trainer, in small groups and in mainstream studio classes.
  • Used in all types if workouts including strength and conditioning.
  • For tight muscles before or after physical activity
  • For use in conjunction with rehabilitation and to compliment physiotherapy treatment


Areas a foam roller can be used:

In all types of workouts for;

  • Upper body
  • Core
  • Lower body

The foam roller is particularly effective on tight ITB muscles


Why do our Physiotherapists recommend foam roller?

“The Foam Roller is very good for fascia release. It releases tightness in the ITB. The foam roller helps to mobilise the spine, reduces stiffness around the middle back and the pectoral muscles.

In the next instalment we will be looking at the benefits of Therapeutic Hand Putty and how it can be used effectively.

Collaboration Tracks – Kashmir

Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream

Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream

My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again

Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin’ through Kashmir.

black and white photo of Joe Townsend's GranOver the summer break I met up with my Granny in Cornwall and she reminded me of when she went walking in Kashmir in Northern India on her honeymoon with her newly-wed husband, Andrew. The year was 1937 and they relished the solitude, the grand vistas and the peace, a country conjured in the colonial imagination and away from the government offices and dust of Delhi. They walked, and as it turns out she rode a pony quite a lot of the way, while Andrew walked. Their solitude also meant travelling with a small entourage of people to put up tents and cook accompanied by a small handful of armed guides. Such was solitude for some in the fading British Empire.

The very sound of the word Kashmir conjures up mystery and was the title of the song that Robert Plant penned when travelling through southern Morocco. Showing equal measure of devotion and irreverence to musical authenticity they created a masterpiece and quite possibly one of the greatest tracks in the history of rock music.

Monastery on Hilltop by Koshy Koshy used under Creative Commons by Trinity Laban/ Desaturated from original
Monastery on Hilltop by Koshy Koshy used under CC by Trinity Laban/ desaturated from original

The version that I have chosen is not the original but the reworking on the 1996 release No Quarter. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page bring together a range of amazing musicians that included a stellar string orchestra of the finest players on the London session scene including David Juritz who is leading the Trinity Laban Side by Side orchestra on Friday 3 October, and stars from other parts of the world. Musicians featured UK based percussion maestro Hossain Ramsey and friends on percussion with violin virtuoso Waeil Abu Bakr, who lights up the middle section with a beautiful Egyptian style fiddle solo. This version happened in the middle of the 1990s world music boom. They didn’t pander to recreating authenticity but allowed people to do their own thing over a rock classic.

Kashmir is one of Led Zeppelin’s greatest compositions which they played live at almost every gig after releasing the original version on the album Physical Graffiti. Musically it features a solid drum groove in square time with the melodic elements superimposed in “three”. The result is highly syncopated. Add a Hijaz mode of the harmonic minor here and there and you have a highly pleasing and exciting result that has rocked audiences over four decades. Robert Plant is one of the great storytellers and really knows how to shape a song, he wails like an imam and roars like the great rocks star that he is.

It is a story of escape and an exotic journey through strange lands, and encounters people who spoke in tongues of lilting grace, a recurring theme in Led Zeppelin’s work. The words relate to the fact that always on the road, and the one they were on in Morocco at the time went on and on.

Heylandt - Go to Heaven! Kashmir
Heylandt – Go to Heaven! Kashmir by Udo Herzog used under CC by Trinity Laban/ desaturated from original


All I see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground

And my eyes fill with sand, I scan this wasted land

Trying to find, trying to find where I’ve been.

As I sat with my Grandmother aged 97 last Thursday we think of our own Shangri Las beneath the summer moon. Oh, I been flying… (Grand)mama, there ain’t no denyin’

Written by Joe Townsend – CoLab creative producer

Anna Nicole, Royal Opera House, review


Anna Nicole sitting on gold throne surrounded by reporters

Something wasn’t quite right. I was in one of my favourite venues in London and I wasn’t the youngest person. In fact, at the ripe old age of twenty-five, I was probably one of the oldest. As the Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten, walked through the hot pink curtains onto the Royal Opera House stage, he was met with cheers and whoops. It all felt a bit strange. It felt like I was at the Opera with…my friends.

The revival of the 2011 production of Anna Nicole, the brash, foul-mouthed and invasive opera, opened this year’s season at the ROH. With copious amounts of generous private funding, tickets were between £1-£25 to get people like me (young, hip, and will never be able to afford a central London rental with a sitting room, let alone a mortgage) to come along.

And it made total sense. The opera is unashamedly about what my generation have been drip-fed; the insatiable obsession with celebrity culture, where nothing (or no one) is allowed to take its natural course. So if we didn’t get it- how was anybody else meant to?!

It seemed somewhat ironic that Anna Nicole and her short shelf-life was so much better the second time. The music, the story and the cast (largely the same as the first production) were more settled. No longer was it about rude words or intrusive production or lack of clothes or innuendo or tits…it was simply about the sad, sad story.

Having a music degree in vocal studies, I’m always inclined to listen to technique, colour, diction and breath control. Well, slightly awkward… I can’t remember what the singing was like. At Trinity Laban, my singing teachers would say that if you do your job properly, people won’t congratulate you, they’ll fall in love with the music. In Anna Nicole, everything merged so well (not just because of the brilliant music direction from Pappano and non-opera acting from the cast) that I simply felt massively overwhelmed. I felt the heightened range of emotions one is supposed to feel at the opera; sad that this was a representation of my generation, and empty…like I’d just had a massive binge of whilst watching The Only Way is Essex.

I overheard someone at half time say ‘the music doesn’t let Westbroek’s voice shine!’ and whilst I agree, I imagine it was entirely intentional. Anna Nicole never had a voice, so why would you give her character lots of top soaring notes over the orchestra? You wouldn’t. Instead you make her an alto with lots of chest singing and put a drum kit over it. Thomas’ libretto and Turnage’s music is snappy and short which gives the audience member an all-too-familiar feeling of ruthlessly browsing on one’s phone- checking facebook, twitter or seeing your latest match on Tinder. There is hardly any character development, but in a culture where we want everything now, why should we wait whilst she lamented through an aria.

At the end of the performance a Trinity Laban student who wasn’t enjoying the opera at the half-time mark, tapped me on the shoulder saying how incredible the second half was, especially the last scene where the cameras go through Nicole’s trash, rat-like- whilst she sits in her own body bag. The bleak and grim image left a nasty taste in my mouth. We wanted Anna to go that far, and she did.

This opera hANNA NICOLE; ROH,  ANNA NICOLE; ROH,ad a large effect on me and I wasn’t sure why until I chatted to my brother-in-law who happens to be a Professor of Economic Geography at LSE. I was talking about my current unpaid internship in the arts and that, if I was struggling to live in London, how were other people doing internships managing? And so, as an arts graduate (with an ex-GP for a Dad and immigrant for a Mum) the class debate began. Neil pointed me in the direction of this thought-provoking piece by Nick Cohen. Just this week, Judi Dench was questioning whether drama courses were now a kind of finishing school. And as this article discusses, where is all the art reflecting the recession? The answer? There is none, as none of the artists with a platform felt it.

It struck me that the reason Anna Nicole the Opera is so important is because of Anna Nicole herself. Regardless of what you think of her, she started from an abusive family home, working in Walmart and ended up a millionaire widow of a billionaire. The Royal Opera House, an institution surrounded by pomp and prestige deemed her modern-day story worthy of telling. And before you rebuke with ‘WHAT ABOUT CARMEN?’, giving the opening night slot to a true story about a character, I mean person, still in the news today is somewhat different. By supporting this story-of-our-time, on one of the most famous stages in the world, where seats frequently go for half my monthly rent, it was giving somebody else a voice for a change.

Sitting in the auditorium with all the other young people felt exciting. Considering the story was so bleak, I was surprised at how exhilarated I felt walking out. I just hope that I can go to the opera with my friends again, sometime soon.

Written by Trinity Laban Alumni: Lucy Drever

What is the difference between using Ice or Heat for an Injury?

It is common among all performing artists to face injury at some point in their career.  We have all been told to ice or apply heat to an injury, but when do we apply ice? When do we apply heat? And for how long? How often?  Do you apply ice immediately after being injured, or is it better to apply heat? Applying ice or heat at the right time can help speed the recovery of an injury, if incorrectly applied it can actually cause more damage to the injury.

There are many different ideas about when to apply ice and when to apply heat.  If the injury is acute or chronic depends on if heat or ice should be applied.

  • An Acute Injury is when there is immediate pain, inflammation and swelling. It is usually a result of impact or a traumatic event, for example, a sprained ankle.
  • A Chronic Injury refers to a progressive injury, one that may come and go. It often begins with mild symptoms and progressively becomes worse over time.

Ice to Injury

Treating an Acute Injury

Ice should be applied to an acute injury as it reduces the pain and swelling seen from the onset of an acute injury.  The ice causes the blood vessels to narrow therefore limiting any internal bleeding at the injury site. Ice should be applied immediately to the area for 10-15 minutes and repeated every 2-3 hours for 24 to 48 hours. Ice therapy can also be used in treating overuse injuries, common in performing artists. For example, if a dancer suffers from knee pain from long hours of rehearsals ice can be applied to the area to prevent inflammation. It can help with pain relief and the relaxation of muscles. After 48 hours heat can be applied to the area through heat pads, deep heat etc., as bleeding in the area should have stopped.  The aim changes from restricting bleeding and swelling to repairing and remobilising the tissues through rehabilitation such as physiotherapy, sports massage, exercise and stretching. The heat will cause the blood vessels to open up and encourage more blood to the area, therefore stimulating the area to heal the tissues. Applying heat also has a soothing effect on the body and helps to relieve pain and spasms. It can also ease stiffness making the tissues more supple.  It is important to only ice a new injury; applying heat can make the injury worse. It will increase bleeding in the area and cause further inflammation, which could make the injury worse.

Treating a Chronic Injury

If the injury is chronic heat should be applied throughout the area.  If muscles or joints are sore or stiff, heat can help to relax the muscles as circulation is increased in the area.  Heat increases the blood flow in the injured area, stimulating the area to heal.  It also has a direct soothing effect and helps to relieve pain and spasms.

There is one exception to the rule.  If you have acute lower-back pain heat can be applied to the area as a lot of pain in this case is caused by muscle spasm.  Heat therefore would be more beneficial then ice.

So Always Remember:

ICE is for INJURIES: Reduces inflamed damaged tissues.

Heat is for MUSCLES: Takes the edge off pain.