Foam roller and Self Myofascial Release
Many of you have heard the saying, “You must roll your muscles out after exercising to prevent injuries and tightness.” Is this true? Yes it is true. Foam rolling is a form of self myofascial release technique. This technique is typically done by a therapist who utilizes hands on approach. Typically the therapist will apply low load, dragging force across layers of the soft tissues (muscles) in the body. Well everyone can’t afford or doesn’t have the capability of having a therapist at their side everytime they finish a workout. So the next best alternative is utilizing a foam roller. The foam roller doesn’t completely substitute for a therapist hands but provides similar effects.
What is all this talk about self myofascial release?
Myofascial release is a soft tissue technique used to release immobility and reduce pain in the soft tissues (muscles). Self myofascial release is performing this technique on yourself. The obvious benefits of doing self mysofascial release is to:
Increase Blood Flow
Decreased pain allows you to work the muscles efficiently through cardio, strength training and overall performance.
Decrease Risk of Injury
When muscles are injured this creates down time from your event, sport or leisure activity.
Improve Overall Movement (ROM)
Increase range of motion allows your body to utilize the muscles through its full capacity. When you are able to work the muscle through its full capacity then you will gain increase in strength and overall performance.
Increase Function and Performance
When muscles are increased in circulation, flexibility, decreased pain and increase in overall strength then you are improving the muscles overall function and performance.
So now that you understand the benefits of Foam rolling (self myofascial release); what is the proper way of foam rolling?
Foam rolling 101
- What size foam roller should you use?
There are so many different types of foam rollers, some with smooth edges, grids or spikes, some that are larger in diameter; so which is the right one for you?
If you are a beginner with using a foam roller you always want to start off with a smaller diameter foam roller with a smooth surface and lower density. This will allow your body to get acclimated with using a foam roller. As you advance you can use a larger diameter with a higher density. You can also begin to incorporate grids in your foam roller to target deeper areas within the muscle. Grids within a foam roller are used to help breakup knots and trigger points within the muscle belly. Below are examples of the various sizes, density(intensity) and zones of foam rollers.
- Understand the proper way of using a foam roller.
Foam rolling can be used both pre-workout or post-workout. The key is to roll slightly on muscles for at least 20 seconds. If you have just completed an intense workout you don’t want to foam roll vigorously as it may cause further damage to your soft tissues (muscles).
- Know the areas that you should foam roll and how to foam roll these particular areas.
These are just examples of the common areas that you should foam roll daily.
4.Make sure to incorporate foam rolling into your daily routine.
You should at least foam roll once a day at minimum especially if you are engaging in some form of physical activity.
- Always incorporate some form of stretching after you foam roll.
Don’t just stick with foam rolling; always perform your dynamic stretching prior to your workout and static stretching after your workouts. Below are two examples of dynamic and static stretching.
As you can see foam rolling can provide so many benefits: improving circulation, decreasing injuries and improving performance. This form of myofascial release should be incorporated into every active person daily routine. Let’s decrease our risk of injuries by taking the first step in stretching and performing self myofascial release (foam rolling).