The Foam Roller, your new best friend.
Muscle soreness, tightness and even injury are all things that can easily get in the way of your next training session. This can unfortunately lead to inconsistencies, lack of motivation and excuses in your weekly exercise regime.
Introducing the Foam Roller, your new best friend and gym buddy.
The foam roller is a type of self-myofascial release in which you apply pressure to certain body parts to relieve pain. The foam roller can help reduce post-workout muscle soreness, prevent and aid in the healing of injuries, lengthen muscle fibers, reduce stiffness and tightness and help with rehabilitation. A study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation found that foam rolling significantly increases range of motion and with the combination of static stretching and foam rolling led to the greatest flexibility improvements.
As we age, we lose elasticity in our joints and connective tissue—and suddenly, we can end up feeling pain while doing the simplest of tasks, like walking up the stairs. Research shows that a massage can reduce stiffness and soreness by more than 40%. There is now an even better and cheaper way to reduce and even rid ourselves of aches and pains. In walks the Foam Roller.
Foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation we can target just about any muscle group. There are a variety of rollers out there from your standard Flat Surface roller, to the Firm Roller, the Rumble Roller or just recently the Grid Foam Roller. They each have a unique design and construction that provides a range of different pressures, intensity and/or more targeted trigger point self massage.
How It Works
The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps (like glad wrap) and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Both muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system.
There are various reasons why the muscle and tissues can become stuck together, this is called an adhesion and it is usually results in restricted movement. It can cause soreness, stiffness and a reduced flexibility or range of motion. These symptoms are a product of things like disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries.
Myofascial release is a technique in which a practitioner (or foam roller) uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.
There are plenty of trainers and physical therapists who regularly use and prescribe this inexpensive, long tube they call their secret weapon against pain. In summary it is very similar to an old-fashioned rubdown, using a roller breaks up fibrous tissue and boosts circulation so you are less sore. This is because foam rolling increases blood flow to the areas that needs it.
A Quick Glance At The Routine
Equipment and space needed:
A open floor space big enough to perform stretches and be able to use the foam roller effectively. One foam roller either 18-inch, 36-inch is fine.
You can purchase foam rollers at your local sports store or come and see us at Think 24hr fitness.
I would recommend incorporating this in your gym routine every time as part of an active warm up. You can either work on the part of the body you are about to workout, work on an area of your body that need the most attention or do a full body roll out each time. The choice is yours. At minimum I would recommend using a foam roller 3 times per week to reduce stiffness and tone muscles.
The foam roller can be used before, during and after any workout. My preference is definitely to use it before my workout. I then add in some dynamic stretching and im good to go. Remember to always do some static and/or PNF stretching after your workout as this will help with lengthening the muscles out, reduce the stiffness and help you keep your mobility and flexibility.
How to do it:
Begin each move by lying with a part of your body on top of the foam cylinder, then roll slowly in both directions until you find a tender spot. Hold for about 30-60 seconds, or until you feel the muscle (and sore spot) relax, then continue down the length of the muscle until you find another knot; repeat 3 to 5 times. You can also roll back and forth along the specific muscle to massage out any tightness, increase the circulation and to help increase flexibility. Its always a good idea to stretch out the areas you have worked on after you have foam rolled.
Point to note:
If while using the foam roller you are unsure on if you are using it right, you feel any pain or discomfort which you feel is not normal. Please see a professional for some advise. Safety first is a smart approach to any health and fitness regime.