Have you ever wanted a deep tissue massage but been a little apprehensive to pay for it? Well that’s exactly what foam rollers are – your own self-massage solution. A foam roller is a tube shaped self-massage device that comes varying lengths, diameters, firmness, and some of them have different surface textures.
Why should you foam roll?
Both the active and sedentary can benefit from the regular use of a foam roller. To explain a bit about the basic physiology – massaging tender or sore areas also known as knots stimulates the muscle and surrounding tissue and can aid in muscular recovery (for active folks), and restore muscular health (for the sedentary).
Foam rolling is also referred to as ‘self-myofascial release’ as when you’re rolling over these knots you’re stimulating the fascia (tissue surrounding the muscles) and ‘releasing’ it from it’s bunched up state. You might feel these knots as bunched up nodes around your muscles.
Benefits of foam rolling
The benefits of foam rolling certainly are plentiful, although the act can be slightly uncomfortable at first. Over time you will eventually begin to associate the dull ache with the benefits that you will reap over time, which include;
1. Reduce pain and tightness in muscles
As touched on before, the muscles are surrounded by fascia which connects the muscles to the kinetic chain. This tissue needs to be mobile so it can move freely with the muscles. If your hips are tight and the fascia is bunched up then this can cause pain and limited mobility or flexibility.
Using a foam roller regularly keeps the fascia in check, especially if you’re seated for large amounts of the day. Rolling over these knots can provide pain relief and as well loosen up your tight muscles. It’s common to use a foam roller for back pain as it’s often tied in to tight hips and issues from sitting for extended periods of time.
2. Increase mobility
We talked a bit about improving mobility by foam rolling in the last paragraph but let’s go a bit more in depth on that point. So you want to keep your fascia as knot-free and mobile as possible to maintain optimal mobility (full range of motion). For athletic movements like the squat, you will want to have full range of motion in your hips, glutes, and calves to hit proper depth with good form.
For sedentary individuals using a foam roller your goal will be to maintain mobility and combat the effects of sitting too long including: muscle soreness, tightness, and decreased muscle length.
Athletes will look to use foam rolling to ensure that their movements are all optimal and supplement foam rolling to accomplish this.
3. Stress relief
Knots can be painful and having a tight lower body can be uncomfortable at best. After a massage you’re likely going to feel relaxed and free of stress – the same thing happens after foam rolling. Use your foam roller in the mornings to start your day off relaxed, and use it in the evening before bed to break down the knots (stress) that you’ve accrued during the day.
How to get started with foam rolling
Before you go out and grab a foam roller here are a few tips to set you on the right track:
- Check out Breaking Muscle’s mobility screening exercises to see if you have any issues
- See if your local EFM Health Club or a friend has a foam roller so you can try one out before purchasing
- Look at reviews of popular foam rollers to make sure you pick one suitable for your needs
- When foam rolling, apply pressure to the muscle or knot by positioning yourself on the roller and using your body weight. When you reach a sore or tender spot, stop there for up to 30 seconds. Continue rolling over the muscle until you’ve applied pressure to all of the knots and repeat if necessary.
- When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to take it slowly and if it’s too uncomfortable then take a break. It can be an uncomfortable activity but it’s benefits will outweigh the short term discomfort.
- Use your foam roller to warm up before working out, and cool down after with it to decrease recovery time.
- NEVER roll on bones or joints
Source – Greatist.com
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