Foam Rolling is a self-myofascial release technique that has gained popularity amongst athletes of all levels. Foam rolling has become increasingly popular as more studies reveal the many benefits to be gained from the muscle recovery technique. Rolling on a foam roller was once used to treat symptoms through trigger point activation, yet now it has become a practice people do daily for maintenance. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. Normal function means your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform at a moment’s notice.
What is myofascial release?
Fascia is sort of like plastic wrap that covers pretty much every part of your body, comprised of collagen fibers that surrounds and penetrates your muscles, organs and nerves. Fascia essentially holds us together.
It’s obvious that sometimes holding everything together can take its toll on your body. It’s no different for our fascia. Through overuse it can become sore and restricted. Because of little tears that sometimes don’t heal properly, adhesions develop. If the connective tissue surrounding your muscle becomes restricted, you’ll notice your muscles will also become restricted in their movement.
Myofascial release describes what happens when you apply pressure to the affected areas to eliminate adhesions and release tension, ultimately improving movement and restoring the body back to its natural state. Foam rolling, myofascial release and massage are some modalities to loosen up fascia.
Here are some benefits of Foam Rolling and the reasons I incorporate it into my daily practice.
Loosens up the muscles – Skipping any kind of stretching technique – including foam rolling – before a workout will likely result in your muscles feeling tight and inhibited. This prevents you from being able to perform your workouts effectively and penetrate target muscles. Foam rolling is an excellent way to relax your muscles before a workout, ensuring a more effective and efficient exercise.
Limits soreness – Though not a substitute for stretching, warming up or cooling down, foam rolling limits soreness by increasing flexibility and increasing the blood flow
Increases blood circulation – Most massages are good for improving circulation through the arteries, veins and capillary n your body. When you applying pressure as you would while foam rolling, the blood is pushed through various avenues of the body. Areas with good blood circulations receive more oxygen creating a rejuvenating effect
Loosen the fascia within your body – Fascia is a band of connective tissue investing and connecting internal organs together. Foam rolling not only helps stretch muscles, it also digs down into those hard to reach areas breaking up scar tissue. This soothes the fascia strengthening those muscles.
Increases flexibility – When your muscles are loosened due to foam rolling it increases their elasticity. The more flexible your muscles are the more power they will be able to produce. Combined with proper stretching, and training you can reach new levels of performance
Reduces cellulite – Cellulite is a common condition that causes dimples in the skin in the abdomen, pelvis and lower limb region and is known to be frequently found in women. Research indicates that one cause of cellulite are shifts in connective tissue structure. Foam rolling helps stretch connective tissues and improve circulation. It does this by breaking up interwoven fat fibers. This process helps prevent the formation of cellulite and reduction of existing cellulite with the combination of diet and proper exercise.
My daily practice of Foam Rolling consists of spending about 7 minutes foam rolling and then 10 minutes of stretching as part of my warm up before going out to run in the morning. I usually roll out my IT bands, my glutes, my thoracic spine, calves, hamstrings and quads. If there is a stubborn or nagging area, I’ll spend more time on that area.
How to Foam Roll specific area’s:
Lie on your stomach with a roller placed under the front of your thigh and slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your hip to the top of your knee.
Place the roller under your thighs. Roll from the knees to the buttocks. To increase the pressure, roll one leg at time, turning your leg in and out.
Sit on the roller and place one foot on the opposite knee. Lean into one buttock and roll forward and back, using your supporting leg to control the pressure.
I like to play around and feel into what my body needs. I move around on the foam roller and tune into the area’s that feel most stuck and I’ll spend time sitting on that area as a trigger point release.