In short, foam rolling, is a self-massage tool used to alleviate tightness in your muscles and your trigger points. The fancy word for foam rolling is Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscles immobility and pain. The goal of foam rolling is to relax muscles and increase blood flow. The deep compression resulting from the foam roller helps to break up as well as relax tight/sore muscles. Increasing blood flow and restoring healthy fascia (tissue) is the end result of foam rolling. Your body responds to the heavy demands of exercise with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In order to prevent or lessen the effects of intense exercise, many health professionals are using this self-massage therapy technique. Using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, and your hands are all popular methods of SMR.
If you workout enough you are bound to experience knots in your body. These knots are easily distinguishable as they are painful or uncomfortable upon touch. Common areas for knots to develop are in the back, legs, and shoulders. CrossFitters are perfect candidates for the development of knots or tissue breakdown as a result of the demands of the sport in relation to intensity.
When foam rolling there should be a level of discomfort. It is common to hear fitness instructors yell to their class, “if it doesn’t hurt you aren’t doing it right.” That statement could not be anymore perfect than for foam rolling. The level of discomfort can be intense at times. If you have ever had a deep tissue massage you can relate to the pain. The advantage of foam rolling versus a massage is that you are in full control of your knots and trigger points. You have the freedom to work areas that are directly causing tightness.
Foam rolling will help you regain your full range of motion with pain free movement. This is a great recovery tool as well as pre-workout tool to loosen up your muscles. Coupling foam rolling with other mobility stretches, a dynamic warm up, and/or cool down after you workout will optimize your pre and post workout needs. The road to recovery is far shorter when not only preparing your body for the workout but also relaxing your body afterwards.
Avoid foam rolling on bones or joints. Putting stress on bones and joints can lead to injury. Remember the goal is break up muscle tissue not apply pressure to bone. Consult with your physician before attempting a self-myofascial release regiment of your own. The information provided in this article is to provide you with options for optimizing your fitness. Foam rolling will undoubtedly provide you with much needed relief.