Foam Rolling or self-myofascial release is something in recent years that has become very popular with elite athletes and now average gym goers. If you are unsure what the concept is behind it or the benefits of a foam roller – I am here to tell you.
While using a foam roller – you are applying pressure to a certain muscle and surrounding connective tissue which smooths and lengthens the muscle and any adhesions or tightness (also referred to as knots) that is in the muscle. It can be said that using a foam roller is like getting a deep tissue massage although not as efficient – the theory is the same. Foam rolling is the manipulation of connective tissue – the unwinding of tight muscles. Foam rolling can be performed at the beginning of a workout to increase blood circulation, flexibility and range of motion (ROM.) This helps to achieve a better performance within your workout. You are getting the muscles ready to be over exerted – therefore during your warm up is a good time to use the roller – it is, in some instances being used instead of a static stretching routine at the beginning of a workout. Foam rolling also helps to prevent injury as the increase in circulation allows blood to be supplied to certain muscles that don’t always receive enough blood flow and the reduction in tension in the muscle means that they are less at risk of being pulled, strained or snapped.
It’s been discussed that ideally you should be using the roller pre and post work out because foam rolling post workout can help alleviate the onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and it will help flush out any blood pooled in working muscles which in turn brings oxygenated blood and nutrients in to the fatigued muscles to help the repairing process.
Foam rolling can also be performed at home and they aren’t a very expensive piece of gym equipment. You should stretch at home, so why not use a foam roller? And there are different types of foam rollers too. For beginners, a smooth surface, high density roller is initially recommended. You can then look at more expensive ones with a textured surface which is the closest thing to a deep tissue massage that you will get. However, the thing to consider here is that it will cause the most pain as it will get deeper in to the muscle tissue. The longer the roller the easier the easier it is to massage larger muscle groups i.e. legs, and smaller versions are better for more concentrated areas like your glutes or shoulder. Give it a go at the gym or in store and go from there.
For a look at exercises to do on the foam roller or muscle groups to target visit the muscle and fitness website:
Let us know how you get on or if you need any further advice.