Alright some of you may still be wondering what the hype about foam rolling is. Is it just a trend? Does it actually do anything? Why does it hurt so bad? Well hopefully I can answer some of your questions and influence you to try it out and enjoy it like I have.
First of all, what is foam rolling? It is more scientifically known as SMR, or Self-Myfascial Release. It is a soft tissue therapy (muscles, tendons, fascia, connective tissue) that you apply to yourself with the goal to release tightness and soreness, also referred to as trigger points.
Some of the Benefits of foam rolling include:
- Increasing range of motion
- Increasing long term flexibility
- Decrease Muscle Soreness
- Decrease Muscle Pain long term
- Increase Neuromuscular efficiency
- Maintain normal muscle length
- Address muscle imbalances
- Aid with Injury prevention
Think of it as a little Therapeutic massage to yourself. Ok maybe a little more painful at times, but the more you do it the less painful it will be!
Alright first order of business, how to choose the right foam roller? You can order them for as cheap as $8 off amazon if you’d like. You want it firm. It needs to be hard enough so that it’s pressing into you, rather than you pressing into it. Personally, I like the firm, solid black classic.
Now lets talk Technique. You may have seen people just roll around up and down on these things. Thats not exactly right. You should roll around for about 30 seconds to break things up, but then start to feel where you have tension and target that spot to release that tension. You want to push through that spot, relax, and feel it release. You will feel pain, but try to stay on that point until it releases. Then move on to the next spot. This is a slower process that most people think.
When should you foam roll? Ideally every day, but you can start out with a few days a week. Before and after your workout is perfect. You will notice that your muscle soreness will decrease, and it’s a nice warm up before you get started.
What Muscles to target? Well most commonly tight on humans is our IT bands, or the outer thigh. Your IT band connects your hip down to the outside of your knee. Since so many of us sit, or bike, or run, we aren’t getting that lateral movement, so that naturally tightens up. This can cause a pull on your knee and you will feel pain. Roll through that IT band, break up that tightness. Other points that are my favorite to target are your quads, calves, glutes, and back. I find my glutes are often in knots, so I just sit on the foam roller and knead through the soreness. Along with the benefits above, you will start to notice a longer, leaner look to your muscles if combined with regular exercise and a healthy eating routine.
A common mistake? Most people always want to stretch their hamstrings, it feels good, but I suggest you stay away from it unless you are foam rolling them as well. Here’s the deal, our hamstrings are usually over lengthened. Think about it, hips are tight & short (sitting the majority of the day), hamstrings are over lengthened & being stretched through the day. Foam rolling breaks up the muscles, helps reduce the length of the muscles back to normal, and then you will feel stronger and better when you stretch them.
So there you have it, my quick 101 crash course on foam rolling. Have other questions? Let me know, comment below. Think someone else could benefit from this information? Share this blog post and spread the word, and let me know how your next foam roll session goes :)
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