Ever wonder why seemingly sane people are constantly rolling around on the ground at the gym, maneuvering their way around a foam cylinder, looking like they hate their lives?
Why Should I Foam Roll?
Picture a shoelace with a knot tied in it, it’s going to be shorter than it’s supposed to be. You can pull on either end of the lace and it won’t undo that knot, or go back to the same length. Now picture that shoe
lace as a muscle in your body. What’s worse is when the muscle isn’t shortening and lengthening like it’s supposed to, then the fascia, the spider web looking connective tissue between the muscle and skin gets tight. You might hear this referred to as adhesions.
So how can we get rid of these trigger points and adhesions? Get a massage therapist and go every day to have them worked out! If that’s not in the budget, then buying a foam roller is your next best option. It can also be called self myofascial release (myo=muscle) which will increase blood flow to the area.
Can I hurt myself?
If not done correctly, you could potentially injure yourself. Foam rolling over a fresh bruise or a muscle tear could do more damage, or delay healing. A really painful spot, especially in the calves, could indicate a blood clot which could be dislodged by foam rolling. Make sure you know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain”.
Your form when you’re rolling is important too, you’re essentially doing a plank when you’re rolling your quads. If you don’t keep your core tight and keep good form, you have potential to aggravate your back.
Tips and Tricks!
Roll slowly, about 1” per second, and when you find a good sore spot, stay on it and relax that muscle for 5-30 seconds until it starts to release. Once a day, 5-10 minutes of foam rolling should be enough for most people. If a spot doesn’t release, move on, don’t force it, or roll the area around it instead.
Below are some pictures showing some of the more common foam rolling exercises. Keep in mind that if you’re constantly foam rolling the same area and it’s not releasing, you may need to look a little deeper. Maybe you’re weak elsewhere? Not a bad idea to get an assessment done and see if you can strengthen other muscles to balance out your body.
There’s a lot more you can use a foam roller for but these are some of my favourites!