Our bodies learn to compensate for what we throw at them every day, but we can exceed our ability to recover via too many intense workouts, poor posture, and other lifestyle factors.
This is when you need assistance using recovery techniques or through seeing a professional.
We can’t all afford a personal massage therapist or have an OSIM Massage Chair lying at home to regularly ease out the kinks, soreness, and tight spots in our muscles.
STOP, before you started getting depressed, there is a good news. There is a way to massage oneself, with the benefit of being able to control exactly where and how much pressure to apply. The magic here is call "Foam Rolling".
Tight IT Bands? Hamstrings? What about just general soreness from daily life? Foam Rolling will "unlock your body" and help create a more flexible, loose, and limber you.
Anyone who has tight muscles or trigger points (trigger points feel like "knots" or tight bands in the muscle) which is basically everyone, should try out foam rolling.
The technical term for foam rolling is “self-myofascial release.” It’s basically giving yourself a massage to release muscle tension. When foam rolling, you should put as much pressure as you can on the muscle that you’re focusing on using your own bodyweight. It is going to hurt. The pain will lessen after a few seconds of rolling.
Apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle/muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight.- Roll SLOW (about 1 inch per second). When you find a tender spot, pause for a few seconds and try to relax. You should feel the muscle release after about 30 seconds.
Pain isn’t always a good indicator. If a certain area is too tender or doesn’t feel as if it is releasing, then roll the areas around it.
In fact, any muscle that is super sore is also a good indicator that you should foam roll that area.
As part of the warm-up, it should be the first thing done as part of a dynamic warm-up, before any stretching or cardio. Here, it serves to get the blood flowing the areas that maybe aren’t receiving as much blood flow and helps to reduce tension in muscles.
As part of a cool down, the rolling helps to flush out blood that has pooled in the working muscles and allows fresh nutrients and oxygen to come in and begin the healing process.
The short answer: Definitely foam roll before your workout, and after if you want to.
You know that feeling when you wake up the day after a really hard workout or a hard day of work and your muscles are so sore that it's hard to move? Yeah, we've all been there. But foam rolling right can help reduce some of that soreness and tightness.
That's because foam rolling works by massaging away fascia buildup in your muscles, which often lead to painful, sore muscles. Reducing this means the sooner you can get back to pain-free.
In addition to releasing these myofascial release, Foam Rolling also has some general benefits for our bodies:
- aids in preventing injuries
- gets rid of knots and tightness in your muscles
- physically de-stresses your body so it can work more efficiently
- increases flexibility
- increases blood flow, which helps for faster recovery from workouts
- reduces soreness from workouts
Traditionally, and arguably still the most effective method of releasing active trigger points is through deep tissue massage.
Deep tissue massage is most effective because the masseuse is able to locate the trigger points through feel and then apply direct, stroking or ‘kneading’ pressure onto the trigger points and keep that pressure applied for an ideal period of time.
Foam rollers are really just a tool used as a substitute for the hands, elbows and forearms of the massage therapist. The roller is used to locate trigger points and then apply direct rolling pressure to those trigger points to help them release.
Unfortunately conventional stretching on its own doesn’t release trigger points. Static stretching and even partner assisted stretching, is only effective on healthy muscle tissue. So stretching will stretch the healthy muscle tissue around the trigger point but not the trigger point itself – it seems that applying direct pressure on a trigger point is the only effective way to make it release.
Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function. The goal to any corrective or recovery technique is to get you back to the point of normal functioning, as if nothing was ever wrong.
Lastly, a Foam Rolling Infographic
Have Fun Rolling!