What exactly is foam rolling? And why should you do it?
Myofascial tissue is the tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles. Foam rolling is a type of myofascial release, that helps inhibit blood flow and support muscle recovery. Massages are another form of this. Our muscles are covered with a web-like matrix called fascia which, due to inflammation or trauma, can become restricted - or what we identify as "knots." Myofascial release involves applying a constant, yet gentle pressure to the connective tissue to help eliminate pain and restore the normal range of motion. Sustained pressure at the very edge of these knots helps release them.
Typically, a foam roller is seen as a restorative tool - something that is done after an intense workout or to alleviate any preexisting pain and improve soft tissue extensibility and muscle relaxation. However, it can also be done pre-workout to warm up your muscles.
It is also recommended to work foam rolling (or some form of regular myofascial release) it into your daily routine as a preventative measure. Squeeze it in while you enjoy your favorite TV show or movie. If you spend a lot of time on your feet or in heels for work, try rolling out your feet each morning or evening while you brush your teeth. Smaller lacrosse balls or "trigger point" balls are great for targeting those smaller, hard-to-reach areas.
Here are a few pointers to help you get started:
Gently roll until you feel a knot, moving slowly in a wave-like motion
Apply pressure to the edge of the knot, and hold for at least 90 seconds
Only apply pressure to the muscle, never to bone
Foam rolling is an essential part of the recovery process and a key to any progressive workout regimen. The benefits of foam rolling before and/or after your workout include: reducing injury, speeding up workout recovery, improving posture, and yielding faster fitness results. The density of the roller, and how much pressure you apply to your muscles are up to you. Like anything, the more you do it the easier becomes!
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