The typical look that I get from clients when I ask if they’ve ever foamed rolled is one of confusion and hesitation. I can immediately tell that they have no idea what I am talking about. So for a little bit of dramatic effect (and my own enjoyment), I like to grab the spiked roller, which looks like a torcher device to see their reaction. But don't worry, after we have a laugh I have my clients begin on our smooth roller.
On a serious note though, foam rolling or SMR (Self Myofascial Release) is a very powerful tool to use in your fitness routine.
WHAT IS FOAM ROLLING?
Foam rolling is a form of self massage. You can use foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, golf balls, or a barbell. This self massage is meant to break up adhesions aka “knots” and scar tissue. When your muscles and fascia (soft connective tissue just below the skin) get stuck together or you get injured, your body creates these balls of soft tissue build up.
WHO IS IT FOR?
Foam rolling is for everyone. Young, old, avid exerciser, or no exercise at all. Yes, that's right. Even if you don’t exercise, you should still be foam rolling. A great example of this would be my mom. I love her to death, but she’s not your typical gym goer. Yet, she still has aches and pains in her back, hip, and knee. The reason for this is that she has repetitive movement patterns that build up adhesions, so when we do foam rolling she finds a lot of relief.
- Relieves tight muscles
- Primes muscles for exercise (great warm up)
- Relieves stress
- Improves blood circulation
- Helps break down scar tissue from an injury
- Improves/maintains flexibility
- Reduces cellulite
WHEN TO FOAM ROLL:
There are two best times to foam roll ⬇
1. Before your workout
2. Before you static stretch.
Prior to a workout you do not want to do a lot of static stretching (sit and hold a stretch). This puts your muscles in a compromised state when loaded with weight. Similar as to if you were stretching out a rubber band to its end range of motion - that rubber band would be much easier to break. Rolling before a workout helps increase flexibility, decrease tissue density, and increase blood flow. All things that will help you have a great workout.
Foam rolling before static stretching can help increase the effect of those stretches. Static stretching is meant to hold a muscle at its end range of motion. When adhesions are present it prevents muscles from doing this. This is why taking a few extra minutes beforehand to break these down will allow you to get into a deeper stretch.
WHICH FOAM ROLLER SHOULD I GET?
Just like with exercise, you should start slow and build up. If you’re just starting out, I would recommend looking for a smooth foam roller. While knobbed rollers do help get deeper into your tissue it can prevent you from relaxing and breaking the adhesions down. You can find foam rollers just about anywhere or online (Amazon, Target, Fitness Companies and more).
HOW TO FOAM ROLL:
The cool thing about foam rolling is that you can literally roll any muscle you have. Obviously you don’t want to just jump into rolling yourself. You will want to do some research and watch some tutorials on how to properly target the muscle you want to focus on.
The main thing that I emphasize to anyone starting out is to keep your body relaxed. That’s why starting with a softer foam roller is important. When your body senses pain or discomfort its natural reaction is to tense up to protect itself. This will prevent you from breaking down tight spots and might cause new ones to form.
You also want to make sure that you are rolling the bellies (middle portion) and end points of muscles not bones. Hitting on the bones won’t help you progress and it won’t feel very good either!
If you have any questions about what areas you personally should be rolling, which roller is the right roller for you, or what tutorial videos you should be watching then reach out to us. @garagestudiofitnessllc | firstname.lastname@example.org | garagestudiofitness.com