You asked, I answered…
Why is it important to foam roll??
Foam rolling is an extremely important, and often overlooked, aspect of health! As we live life, workout, sit at a desk etc. our muscles and fascia get very tight from being used and abused. Stretching and yoga are great ways to stretch out your muscles, but massage and foam rolling (aka self-myofascial release) are the only ways to loosen up your fascia!
First off, let’s answer the question you are probably thinking right now… What the hec is muscle fascia? Muscle fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds each of our muscles. You can think of it like this: Just like a sausage has a casing around it – so do our muscles! There are many layers of fascia and it can get a little complicated, but just think of it as this web-like connective tissue that surrounds each of our muscles.
Now, you could image that if this connective tissue was nice and limber and pliable, that our muscles would move fluidly – that’s correct! On the other hand, what if this tissue is tight, rigid, and full of scar tissue? Then the muscle inside the fascia cannot move very well and we are much more prone to aches, pains and future injuries!
Massage does wonders to break apart this taught connective tissue, but how many of us have the time and/or money to have a daily massage? I wish! So thus… foam rolling! When you foam roll you are basically giving yourself a massage my manipulating your body weight against the foam roller. The fancy word for foam rolling is self-myofascial release.
BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING:
- Increased joint and muscle mobility! This allows your joints to go through their full range of motion, making daily tasks more doable as well as your workout more efficient.
- Increased blood flow throughout the body
- Decreases the recovery time needed after a workout
- Decreases your risk of injury and can make knee, foot, back and other pains go away!
HOW TO FOAM ROLL:
The best answer to this is to watch a you tube video or ask me how to do it. Once you have the movements down follow these steps…
- Ideally foam roll before your workout
- Foam roll slowly up and down each major muscle group about 6 times
- When you feel a tight spot, don’t breeze by it! Even though it will be painful, stay on that spot and either just hold there or make tiny little up and down or side to side movements to dig into that tissue
- The major areas to target: calves, quads, IT bands, glutes, thoracic (upper) spine, and your lats.
So if you are feeling some aches and pains – I highly suggest getting out a foam roller! Ideally you would have NO pain when foam rolling! If you do…that means something is tight and needs to get worked out.
You can easily find foam rollers on amazon. My favorite two are the original Black High Density Foam Roller one (either the 18″ or 36″ length); or the Trigger Point Grid Foam Rollers, which come in fun colors :)
Let me know if you have any questions about self-myofascial release – happy foam rolling!