What is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling?! What is it all about?
Ever wondered what those tubes are that people are rolling around the floor with? Well FOAM ROLLING is worth doing!
Foam rolling improves mobility and therefore reduces muscle soreness and helps to reduce injuries. So it is your personal massage therapist on a daily basis!
There are different types of foam rollers out there and it all depends on your body as to which foam roller you get. So if you can handle pain, then go for a hard one. If you have a low pain threshold, I would advise a softer one. But, the harder the foam roller, the better and more efficient it is in getting rid of muscular adhesions. They also come in different sizes so it is up to you to decide what is best for your body.
It is a self-myofascial release technique that therapists are now teaching to everyone because we believe these are the easiest and cheapest form of loosening off muscles. Your can sit on them, roll forwards, backwards, side to side and even get into certain stretching positions to get more out of it!
It can be used as part of a dynamic warm up, cool down or an injury rehabilitation program. It is often done just before cardio and dynamic or static stretching as it helps mobilise the muscles, increase blood flow and get them ready for action. In a cool down it can help flush out the blood, bring in new oxygenated blood and fresh nutrients to the muscles which helps in reducing muscle soreness and improves the healing process.
The amount of time on a foam roller only needs to be about 30 seconds on each muscle. So the amount of time on a foam roller depends on how many muscles you need to foam roll and this has to be specific to the type of sport or activity you are doing. For example if you are doing some overhead squatting, focus on rolling the quads, hip flexors, glutes, pecs and back muscles.
The main muscles to focus on with a foam roller can be found below:
- Glutes (especially piriformis)
- Upper and lower back
- Tensor Fascia Latae (pocket muscle or coffee muscle!)
- Calf/ Soleus complex
- Tibialis Anterior
- Plantar Fascia
TFL and hip flexor foam rolling is really important for the activation of the glutes.
If the muscle you are rolling on is not painful, you are either not doing it correctly or it does not need to be mobilised. If it is the latter, it means you have loose muscles that are knot-free so well done! If you are doing it correctly and it hurts, you are also doing it right and compressing your muscle fibres to relax these tight tissues on a neuromuscular level.
Foam rolling muscles helps to re-form the correct movement patterns, pain free movements and improves performance. People invest in one because stretching is not always enough to get rid of aches and pains.
More and more people are using one and making it apart of their lives because it is easy to use, cheap and is very functional. Our bodies sometimes have to compensate for what we throw at them because of poor movement patterns, too many hard sessions at the gym and other lifestyle factors.
If you are not sure about how to use one, or where you need to foam roll, speak to a Sports Therapist who can guide you through what to do. They can do functional screening tests to establish which muscles need foam rolling. Remember tight muscles are usually weak or compensating for another weak muscle so be sure to strengthen those muscles too!