Foam Rolling (Self Myofascial Release) and why you should.
Foam Rolling is a stretching technique that has been around for a long time. It used to be reserved for athletes, fitness professionals, physical therapists and the like. But now it is accessible to everyone, although few among us have taken advantage of this. I see rollers in gyms and in people’s homes not doing a whole lot more than just leaning against the wall. It’s time to grab the foam roller and make it an integral part of your daily fitness routine. The hesitation in doing so may be not fully understanding the why of it, the what of it and the how of it. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Let’s start with the why of it all. Glorious, glorious relief. What do I mean by that? Well, on its base level foam rolling, or self myofascial release, offers relief from knots in the muscle tissue and alleviation of the discomfort due to those knots. A knot is simply a muscle adhesion in the fascial system (the fibrous tissue the surrounds and separates muscle tissue). A quick disclaimer; muscle tissue doesn’t literally “knot” but for the sake of this article muscular adhesions will be referred to as knots. Knots occur for a multitude of reasons. Exercise would be one. Or in fact, not exercising can contribute to the formation of knots. But I think we have all experienced the discomfort in our muscles at one time or another, especially knots in the neck, the shoulders, the lower back and glutes (butt). So the why of it can be boiled down to this; tension and pain relief from knots or muscle adhesions due to repetitive inactivity (like sitting at a desk all day) or activity like exercise.
The what of it. Self myofascial release can be done with a multitude of devices. Obviously a foam roller, but also you can roll out knots or adhesions with a lacrosse ball, softball or even for the hard core among us, a golf ball. But for our purposes let’s stick with a nice foam roller about 6 inches in diameter and 24 inches long. It’s the easiest and gentlest way to introduce yourself to this wonderful world.
And now the how of it. The two things adhesions (knots) hate the most are cold and pressure. Rolling applies that pressure directly. It’s like having a portable masseuse (or at least that friend who is really good at getting that knot out!). The gentle pressure foam rolling applies to a knot stimulates the Golgi tendon which in turn creates autogenic inhibition, relaxing the muscle and releasing tension. That may sound technical so I’ll break it down to this; it releases tension and alleviates pain. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? How we do this is we place the roller under the spot where we are feeling the knot, rolling back and forth until we find that spot. Once we find the knot location STOP ROLLING! A common mistake made when foam rolling is rolling back and forth over a spot. Going back and forth does not allow the natural process of autogenic inhibition to take place. It takes a minimum of 30 seconds for this process to occur. So find the spot and remain on the knot for 30 seconds. This will hurt. I promise. But I also promise that on the other side of this you will find relief and the benefits will far outweigh the negatives. Doing this pre workout will help you maximize the effectiveness of your routine and doing it post workout will aid in recovery time.
So grab your foam roller and I’ll meet you at TriJake Studio. We’re in this together.