Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, consists of using a foam roller to massage and stretch tight fascia.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a long foam tool that may come in different sizes and can vary in firmness. A softer foam roll is recommended for beginners, as the firmer it gets, the more intense the sensation. Some foam rollers have bumps on them to get into the trigger points (irritable spots) of the muscle.
What is fascia?
Fascia is a type of connective tissue made of collagen and elastic fibers that lie beneath the skin and surrounds all of our skeletal muscles. When we move, the fascia stretches and moves with us. If the fascia becomes tight and inflamed, it can be painful and restrict our range of motion.
What are the benefits of foam rolling?
Not only does this technique stretch out tight fascia, it helps to increase circulation, bringing more blood flow to the muscle being worked on. The increase in circulation will help an overworked muscle recover faster, as well as relieve any pain associated with the tightness within the muscle. Foam rolling is essentially a form of stretching, so an increase in the range of motion is another benefit.
How is a foam roller used?
The foam roller is placed on the ground and you can position your body so that the muscle to be worked on is placed directly on top of the roller. You can apply pressure to the area by rolling yourself back on forth on the muscle, pausing and spending extra time on the areas where you feel tightness.
Which muscles should be foam rolled?
Most areas on the body can be foam rolled, the one place that foam rolling is not recommended is the lower back. Make sure to only use the foam roller on muscles and avoid the joints or bony areas on the body. Some of the most popular areas to perform self-myofascial release include the glutes, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs, IT band and calves.
When and how often should I foam roll?
Foam rolling before exercise will help warm up and prepare the muscles for activity. Foam rolling after exercise will help repair the muscles and reduce the soreness associated with physical activity. Foam rolling before static stretches will help the muscles achieve a deeper stretch. Occasionally, dramatic results can occur immediately after a single treatment. Foam rolling is usually recommended at least 3 times per week.
Personally, I like to foam roll before and after I exercise, and I usually exercise about 6 days out of the week. I also foam roll at night before bed when I do my nightly stretches, it helps my muscles relax so I can have a restful sleep. Foam rolling may be painful for some people, especially if the fascia and muscles are very tight. Generally, foam rolling is safe for most people, but always consult with your doctor before trying anything new.
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Have you ever tried foam rolling? What did you think about it? Do you have any other questions about foam rolling? Leave a comment below and let me know 🙂