It's becoming a more common sight these days, whether it be an athlete before they compete or gym goers before or after they workout. The fact is, you can't be in the fitness environment without seeing someone rolling on this particular piece of foam. It is actually a very important part of any workout, but can also be missed by most of us, as we think it is more time added to our already tight schedule, or more commonly, we are unsure of the benefits.
Are you one of those people who think ' what is it doing?' 'How does it work?' 'Why do it?' Well you are not alone. With a little bit of education you may find yourself doing more and more foam rolling as it has some great benefits to your body and mind
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release.
Basically that's a fancy term for self massage to help release tight muscles and trigger points.
You know when you go to the masseuse (not the ones who just rub their hands over you and make you go to sleep), but the awesome masseuses who really get in there and find those 'ouch' points. Well after a bit of applied pressure that they put on that sore area, the pain slowly subsides. Well foam rolling can have some similar effects (of course this is not to take away from the great job those remedial masseuses do out there as I am still a regular customer).
A 'trigger point' in a muscle is like a knot where if you apply the appropriate amount of pressure it can 'release' that tension or tight feeling you were having. Releasing trigger points helps to re-establish proper movement patterns and pain free movement, and ultimately, to enhance performance.
Some other great benefits to foam rolling:
* Improves circulation and removes toxins - It helps stimulates the lymphatic system and helps push toxins out of the body. This helps with better oxygen delivery to the cells, improving circulation and rejuvenation.
* Loosens muscles before a workout to improve performance - . It will allow a wider range of motion for your joints as you have loosen the muscles that surround them.
Some helpful tips:
*Foam roll on the muscle not the ligament or tendon. Releasing the trigger point in the muscle associated to the ligament or tendon will in turn assist in the recovery of that area. Example, if you have a tight ITB, foam roll the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes
* Foam roll along the length of the muscle (not necessarily across the muscle). Although there are still ongoing studies on the different outcomes of completing massage techniques either along or cross the muscle fibres, most commonly the best results come from applying the tension along the length.
*Drink plenty of water after. Similar to when you come out of a massage, they highly recommend to drink plenty of water to help flush the toxins out of the bloodstream that have come from massaging the muscles.
**Note that although I am accredited in functional mobility, if you have particular pain from muscles, joints or anything else, please seek assistance from a qualified medical practitioner.