What is it?
A foam roller is a cylinder usually covered with foam. It is designed to aid with self-myofascial release.
Self-myofascial release is a fancy term for self-massage. Myo means muscle and fascia means band. Myofascia surrounds all our muscles and tissues, like a spiders web. It’s the really tough stuff to cut through on a steak.
You can use a foam roller, tennis balls or your own hands for self myofascial release. The goal of this is to aid the recovery of the muscle and return the muscular function to normal.
We all tend to get sore & feel a little less flexible from time to time. Especially after a brutal workout. Our muscles become damaged and can form trigger points, these are specific “knots” that form in muscles and tend to cause pain. Foam rolling helps to break down these knots and relieve tension. These sore points can be caused through muscle damage, incorrect movement patterns, injuries, posture etc.
How does it work and what does it do?
I like to think of it as an iron for your muscles, you roll over the tight muscles and iron out the creases. Along with aiding recovery, easing soreness and the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Self-myofascial release increases flexibility in the short term that lasts for around 10 minutes.
With 2 weeks or more of foam rolling you may increase flexibility long-term too.
Well how do I do it?
Get yourself a foam roller, or if you can handle it anything cylindrical will work, some solid pipe will do a great job.
Start from the bottom of the body at the end of the muscle furthest from your core (With your calf you’ll want to begin nearest the ankle)
Roll up to the top of the muscle
Pause and roll back down slowly
Where you feel pain you’ll pause in this position until the pain reduces by around 50%. Repeat as necessary
Move onto other muscles.
Check out the video to see how its done!
Get the toughest foam roller you can handle, some are made entirely of foam, if you can stomach it a fully plastic roller is great and hardy!
Focus on points that cause pain or feel tight.
Avoid rolling over joints, bones and the lower back.
For the lower back and difficult to reach points a tennis ball can be very useful.
If you get cramps in your feet rolling a tennis or golf ball under them may help.
Get into the habit of rolling, at least after hard sessions and especially after long runs.
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