Do you have knee or shoulder pain for no apparent reason? Do your joints make grinding or clicking sounds when you move? Are you a fitness enthusiast, a runner or casual exerciser? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above questions, you should try foam rolling!
Why Should You Foam Roll?
Foam rolling is becoming ever more popular but it has been around for many years when only the pros used this technique to relieve pain and prevent injury. Foam rolling is basically at-home deep tissue massage therapy as it relaxes and stretches muscles. By doing so it helps with correcting postural imbalances, improving faulty movement patterns, taking pressure off joints, easing muscle soreness, and keeping muscles at their original length. Foam rolling is just as important as stretching to keep you exercising many more years without injuries.
How It Works
Foam rolling is also called Self Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR targets muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, that are points where the muscle contracted too much either from prolonged use of the same muscle or a sudden, too strenuous movement that caused the muscle fibers to spasm. This restricts the flow of nutrients and blood into that part of the muscle, which prohibits the proper function of the muscle.
What Do Muscle Knots Have To Do With Join Pain?
Think of the muscle knots like knots in a string. The string was a certain length but tying knots in it made it too short for what the string was originally intended for. Just like the string, muscles have a certain length to move the body properly. When they are too short due to muscle knots they start pulling on the joints they are attached to. This results in the misalignment of joints, which can lead to further issues down the road, such as muscle strains and tears, arthritis, spinal disc issues, back problems and bad posture.
You can find a wide range of foam rollers in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The most common rollers are white or black cylinders between 1’ and 3’ long. The white roller is made from a softer material than the black one, which results in a milder massage. Newer versions of foam rollers have gridlines or a bumpy surface for a stronger massage. You can also find myofascial release balls which allow for a more targeted massage of areas needing deeper pressure such as the gluteus muscles, calves, or for reaching into hard-to-get-to places such as the front of the hip. You can also find hand held SMR tools, like The Stick or smaller versions of foam rollers like the Trigger Point Quadballer. Most of these tools cost between $15.00 to $40.00. Get 40% off the Foam Roller, in fitness accessories, at Marika with their Mother’s Day Sale going until 5/6. Before purchasing check your local gym as they might have SMR tools and you can try them out before investing in your own.
By rolling on the SMR tools with your bodyweight, you push blood and nutrients back into the muscle knots and help them relax and release. Follow this link for a video showing you how to use your foam roller:
Foam Rolling Guidelines
Start off by rolling for just a few minutes and spend extra time on painful spots. The first time you foam roll it might be quite painful but it gets better quickly. If you ever had a deep tissue massage or a sports massage you know that you might experience discomfort during the massage but you will feel so much better afterward.
Give yourself a couple of days after your first session to assess for bruises and give the muscles time to recover. Some tenderness afterward is normal but you should never feel pain once off the foam roller. You can roll prior, during and after a workout for as little as a couple of minutes or as long as an hour or more depending on your needs and the amount of muscles that need to be addressed.
Still Not Convinced You Need To Foam Roll?
Think of your body as a Ferrari that needs regular oil changes to maintain its great performance. Foam rolling is your body’s oil change. Daily activity is enough to create muscle knots that can throw your body off. Foam rolling is a very inexpensive way to keep injuries away!
Purchase a Foam Roller here!
Foam Rolling: The Best Kept Secret was contributed by Lucy Hendricks who is the COO and Co-Owner of HERO, a Personal Training Studio in Dobbs Ferry, NY. She is a certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor through NASM and AFAA. She has an A.S. in Nutrition and an A.A. in Psychology. She is also certified in Yoga, Kettlebells, FMS, ViPR and TRX. Lucy loves running races, spending time with her husband and their 9 adopted pets including a dog, cats and one fish. Visit Lucy at HERO Strong and conquer your health and fitness goals. For the latest with HERO Strong find her on Twitter and Facebook!