Also known as self-myofascial tissue release, foam rolling is a form of self massage that allows you to pinpoint direct areas on your body to release built up tightness and muscle tension. Adding foam rolling exercises into your daily routine can help prevent injuries, reduce muscle soreness, lead to better performance, promote a faster recovery, and more.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
The general idea that has been built up behind foam rolling is that by applying direct and sweeping pressure to areas of soreness and built up knots or hotspots ( whatever you want to call them ), you are essentially “mashing” the underlying connective tissue, also known as fascia, and reducing tension of that area.
The result of breaking down this scar tissue can help promote better blood flow, maintain normal muscle length, reduce pain and soreness, increase range of motion, prevent injuries, and aid in recovery.
According to Peter Dipple, head of sports and massage at the London based Ten Health and Fitness, “foam rolling is a great way to relax your muscles. Even those who are inactive could see benefits, as foam rollings exercises can help relax muscles that have become tight from sitting at a desk all day.”
How Often Should I Foam Roll?
Ideally everyday. I am guilty of not foam rolling everyday even though I do my best to. The more you roll out your muscles, the more they will respond in positive ways to it. When first starting out, sessions of around 10 to 20 minutes will suffice. If you have never done it before and don’t stretch regularly you could experience some discomfort from applying pressure to an area of tension, which is normal. However, if the pain becomes excruciating stop immediately.
Gradually progress your way from short, slow rolls to much longer and smoother rolls, sometimes stopping and sitting on a specific knot and breathing until you can feel it release. Similarly to stretching, remembering to breath is going to be key in the effectiveness of your foam rolling.
7 Simple Foam Rolling Moves:
- Sit on the floor with your legs out straight, ankles crossed left over right with the foam roller under your right calf.
- Place your hands at your side and lift your butt off of the ground.
- Flex your toes out and in as you roll, eventually rotating inward to work all areas of the calf.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- Note: If the pressure is too much, take the top leg off and decrease the amount of pressure you are using.
- Place your legs out straight and have your foam roller under your thighs.
- Place your hands at your side and lift your butt off of the ground. Roll from just below your butt to the top of your knees, making sure not to actually go behind the knee cap.
- You can do one leg at a time or both.
- Lie face down on the floor with your legs straight and a foam roller under your quads, propping yourself up on your forearms.
- Slowly roll your quad muscles from the tops of your legs to the top of your knees.
- Your can shift your body and work the outside ( IT Band ) and the inside of your quads as well.
- Sit on the foam roller with your left foot flat on the floor and your right leg crossed over your left thigh. Place either both or only your right hand beside you for support.
- Tilt your body to the right so your right glute presses against the roller.
- Roll and repeat on the other side.
- Lie face up with your feet flat against the ground, butt of the floor, and roller under your mid-back.
- Place your hands gently behind your head or cross your arms on your chest and slowly roll the entire length of your back.
- Careful not to roll directly on the spinal cord of your lower back as it will lock up and can create the opposite effect.
- Lie on your side with your legs straight and foam roller under your armpit.
- Use your opposite hand and foot to roll from your armpit to below your ribcage.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Lie on your stomach with your foam roller under your tricep. You may shift your body to the side to get the better angle.
- Rotate around the arm from the tricep and roll the bicep and even forearm as well.
- Switch sides and repeat.
While you do not want to neglect a certain side, if one side is hurting more than the other give it a little more TLC and spend some extra time on that side.
Try to avoid massaging directly where you feel pain or discomfort. The discomfort is likely the cause of a tight muscle pulling it out of place. Focus on connective areas around the effected area.
Avoid rolling too quickly. Longer, slower, more measured rolls will cause your brain to send messages to your muscles to relax.
Stick with it! It might hurt at times, but it’s a good pain! You will begin to learn which ways to rotate your body to get the best spot and maximize pressure and all kinds of things your body will thank you for. If you want to stay active and be able to do things physically in the long run, stretching and foam rolling are going to help you out big time.
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Roll out, be #BakcountryStrong