Foam rolling basics
No, we don’t mean one of those frothy bashes where you dance around in dollops of soap foam!
“Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used by athletes and physical therapists to inhibit overactive muscles. This form of stretching utilizes the concept of autogenic inhibition to improve soft tissue extensibility, thus relaxing the muscle and allowing the activation of the antagonist muscle.” (Wikipedia)
Fascia, the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle, provides support and protection. It can become restricted due to overuse, trauma, and inactivity. Consequently, inflammation occurs which can result in pain and irritation and inflammation.
SMR is generally used on the gastrocnemius,latissimus dorsi, piriformis, adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, thoracic spine (trapezius and rhomboids), and Tensor Fascia Latae muscle groups. That makes up most of your back and legs and hips.
Self-myofascial release techniques via foam roller are performed by rolling the foam roller under each muscle group until a tender area is found, and maintaining pressure by your own body mass on the tender area for 30–60 seconds.
It helps improve joint range of motion and overall muscle recovery, and it does so without sacrificing muscle performance and strength.
Perhaps the biggest benefits of SMR are that it can be done by yourself, and is very efficient in that it can take as little as a minute to target the desired muscle group.
Another benefit is that it helps your muscles relax by activating the sensory receptors connecting your muscle fibers to your tendons. The outcome is better blood circulation, which in turn speeds up workout recovery and boosts performance.
It is essentially a more affordable way to give yourself a deep tissue massage.
The equipment that is used for foam rolling usually consists of a foam cylinder of various sizes; However, longer foam rollers are produced for rolling over certain muscles in the back. A variety of foam roller densities are available often denoted by the color of the roller.
Those new to foam rolling, or those who have particularly tight muscles or severe trigger points, often start with a softer foam roll.
Roll like a pro
- Roll back and forth across the painful or stiff area for 60 seconds.
2. Spend extra time directly over the knot or trigger point itself.
3. Roll the injured area two to three times a day.
- To prevent injury, roll out 2-3 times a week.
5. Avoid rolling over bony areas.
6. Always stretch the area following foam rolling.
- It is not recommended to foam roll the lumbar spine, due to possible injury to discs.
Try these basic rollouts and let us know how it works for you!
Upper Back Roll
Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you, protracting the shoulder blades. Raise hips off the ground, placing weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back. Alternate sides.
Supported initially on all fours as shown here, place the foam roller just underneath your knee (remember to avoid rolling over bony structures).
Slowly roll up and down over the shin muscles paying attention to any stiff and sensitive areas.
In a sitting position place the foam roller underneath the back of your thighs. Support the bodyweight primarily through the arms and roll up and down the posterior thigh.
Place the foam roller underneath the thighs, and slowly roll up and down the thighs focusing on any especially stiff and sensitive areas.
With your bodyweight supported by feet and hands, place the foam roller underneath the outside of one thigh. Roll up and down the outer thigh.
By Letitia Kleynhans