What is Foam Rolling?
Foam Rolling is the most popular mechanism for self-myofascial release as it breaks down knots that limit range of motion, it preps muscles for stretching.“Fascia” refers to connective tissue that binds and stabilizes the muscles.
Why should you foam roll?
1. Improved flexibility and increased joint range of motion
For years, stretching was the standard method to decrease muscle tightness and improve flexibility prior to either working out or performing a sport. Newer research, however, shows foam roller exercises before an activity can lead to an increase in flexibility.
2. Better circulation
Because blood carries oxygen throughout the body, good circulatiion becomes crucial to overall health. Among other reasons, a decrease in our circulation can lead to a whole host of problems like numbness in our limbs, impaired cognitive ability (the ability to think clearly!) and a weak immune system Myofascial release can help improve circulation by breaking up the tight areas where blood flow may become restricted.
3. Stress reduction
Foam roller exercises can help reduce stress post-workout. One study found myofascial release can lower cortisol, your stress hormone that you want to seriously dial down after a strenuous workout.
4. Reduce exercise-related soreness
Whether you are an experienced athlete or a weekend warrior, you’ve probably experienced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Simply put, DOMS is the pain and stiffness in your muscles that can typically set in anywhere from 24–48 hours after an intense workout. However, research finds foam rolling can substantially reduce the chances of that soreness creeping in so that you don’t spend the day after your first cycling class stuck on the couch wondering why your legs hate you so much.
5. Prevent injury
Treating an injury becomes much easier when you avoid it in the first place. Oftentimes a consistent routine of proper stretching techniques combined with foam roller exercises can prevent many injuries associated with tightness and overuse, such as iliotibial band syndrome and other common running injuries.
The iliotibial band runs from the top of the leg by your hip to just below your knee. It tends to be particularly susceptible to injury, especially in runners. One caveat: If not done properly, you can do more harm than good. Rolling on an already inflamed area can actually increase inflammation, thereby giving you the exact opposite effect you are trying to achieve.
When should you foam roll?
In an ideal situation, one would foam roll both before a workout as part of your warm-up and as part of a cool down. Pre-Warm up rolling should be done before any stretching or cardio, as it serves to get the blood flowing the areas that are lacking blood flow and helps to reduce tension in muscles. As part of your cool down, the rolling helps to flush out blood that has pooled during your workout, in the working muscles and allows fresh nutrients and oxygen to come in and begin the recovery healing process.
Two to three sets of foam rolling lasting between 30 and 60 seconds—that’s per muscle, not total—seems to be effective at reducing pain and improving flexibility, Behm says.
Different ways to use the foam rolling: https://www.runnersworld.com/foam-roller/how-to-use-a-foam-roller/slide/3
Top 3 tips!
- Slow it down: Don’t foam roll too fast, slow it down and give your muscles enough time to actually relax and begin to break up the adhesions in your fascia.
- Pain is not Gain: Don’t spend all your time on the soft spots: Spending more than a minute applying pressure directly on a knot means you might hit a nerve or damage the tissue, resulting in some nasty bruising. Spend about 20 seconds on a knot, then move on. Do not try to be a hero by seeing how long you can take the pain.
- Avoid Lower Back: People often roll out their lower back when it feels ‘tight’. However, we should never roll out our lower back, as this can cause your spine to freak out and all the surrounding spinal muscles to contract to protect the spine. Hence, an even ‘tighter’ back.
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