Foam Rolling 101
What is it, and why is everyone telling me I should be doing it?
Foam rolling is a term used to describe a technique of self-massage utilizing a piece of equipment called a Foam Roller (pictured below).
This piece of equipment, when using your body weight to apply pressure, can help you release trigger points in your muscles, massage out knots, help release pressure in areas of tightness , and improve your flexibility and mobility. They aid in muscle repair and recovery, which in turn keeps your body functioning at normal capacity.
So you may be thinking…. Ok, what’s the big deal? I already stretch after I work out, I don’t feel tight, and this sounds like it could be painful….why should I incorporate this in to my day? The reason people are utilizing this piece of equipment is because stretching isn’t enough to release tension in the muscles.
Jeff Kuhland, fitness professional and author, explains it best in his bungee cord example: “Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unaltered.” You may not feel these knots in your muscle, but if you perform any type of physical activity whatsoever, chances are you have them somewhere.
So how does this piece of equipment work to ‘untie the bungee knot’ so to speak? First, you need to find your areas of tightness, muscle soreness or limited range of motion. If you’re unsure as to where you would be sore, your quadriceps (top of your thighs) may be a good place to start! To foam roll correctly, you need to use the roller to apply moderate pressure to an area on your body, utilizing your body weight. (Glutes pictured below)
Roll slowly by shifting your weight to apply more or less pressure. Pause on areas of tenderness for a minimum of 30 seconds until the mild discomfort or tightness decreases. Continue to roll along or around the area if needed. Some spots may take several rounds of rolling. If you find a particular area to be painful, try working the area around it first, then gradually work your way in. Foam rolling causes some discomfort, but the pain should be tolerable. When rolling, you want to make sure you avoid your joints (knee, elbow, etc), the low back and the neck. If you feel pain, tightness or knots in those areas, they are best addressed by a professional or by utilizing a different tool for release.
When you are finished foam rolling you should feel like your muscles have been worked or released. You’ll want to make sure you drink plenty of fluids and get proper rest after you roll, to prevent soreness and help the muscles fully recover before your next workout.
Looking for more health and wellness expertise? Reach out to the experts at the Mercy Wellness Center.