After a tense week, or a difficult workout you need to take time to stretch and relieve muscle soreness and tension. One of the best ways to relieve and restore normal muscle function is through the practice of self-myofascial release, or foam rolling. Rising in popularity, but not at all new to professional athletes. This is a recovery method that has been used by trainers for years, but has now made a mainstream appearance and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
So, what exactly is foam rolling? It’s a simple way to massage muscles and speed up the recovery process without having to schedule a weekly appointment with your massage therapist (score!). This method of recovery can break-up adhesions and scar tissue that cause muscle tightness. Don’t get ahead of yourself though. Foam rolling can be uncomfortable, but should not be unbearable. But why would you willingly do something to your body that hurts? If you have ever had a deep tissue massage, you know it can be uncomfortable. Afterward, when muscles are restored to normal function there is relief and increased range of motion that previously may have been impeded. Even if you do not have intense fitness routine, you may want to consider foam rolling to aid in relief of muscle tightness from day to day activities. Poor hydration, stress, and other lifestyle factors can determine whether, or not this should be made a daily practice.
Foam rollers can also target trigger points, which are areas in muscles where knots have developed over time. It’s possible to have excellent range of motion but still have trigger points that create pain and tightness. Trigger points start as micro-tears that become chronic through tear-and-repair repetitive cycle, leading to increased tension in the affected muscle. Be sure that you do research and find a foam roller that is best for you needs. Here are some general tips on effectively using a foam roller:
- Roll back and forth across stiff or painful areas for 30-60 seconds
- Avoid rolling over bony areas, such as your kneecaps
- Be careful when rolling over a severely painful area; too much direct pressure could worsen the already inflamed tissues
- Work on an area to increase blood flow, work elsewhere for a few minutes, then return to the trigger point
- After working an area with a trigger point, do some light stretching.
s For foam rolling routines and techniques be sure to visit our Pinterest board, Roll & Recover!