What is Foam Rolling and How Does it Work?
Also referred to as self-myofascial release, foam rolling is essentially a form of self-massage that allows you to apply deep pressure to certain points of the body to release tightness and muscular tension.
According to Peter Dipple, head of sports and massage at leading London fitness studios, Ten Health & Fitness, “Foam rolling can help promote blood flow and break down scar tissue. It could also help maintain normal muscle length, reduce pain and soreness, increase range of motion, and aid in recovery. “Foam rolling is a great way to help relax your muscles. Even those who are inactive could see benefits, as foam rolling can help lengthen muscles that may have become tight from sitting at a desk all day.”
How Often Should You Use a Foam Roller?
Ideally, every day. “The more you foam roll, the more your muscles respond to it,” says Dipple. “Ideally, you should do it daily — as you would stretching — although ease yourself into it by gradually building up the number of sessions you do.”
He recommends dedicating 10-20 minutes per session to foam rolling at least once a day to simply get out the kinks. “When you find an area of tension, work around it for about 30 seconds using short, slow strokes [or rolls] and follow this up with longer, slower (and more soothing) strokes over the whole length of the muscle.” As for the hurting thing? Well, it might feel uncomfortable, especially when you first start rolling. Like any new exercise regime, always check with your medical practitioner or see a licensed physical therapist.
2 Simple Foam Roller Moves
Hamstrings (rear thighs)
Sit up with your hamstrings over the foam roller, and relax into the roller. Use your feet and hands as leverage to roll your lower body up and down the length of your tight muscles. The slower you can roll with control, the more opportunity your muscles have to release and relax
Middle back (posture muscles)
Lie back on the form roller with knees bent and the roller positioned across your mind-back. Place your hands behind your head or on the floor to slowly roll your torso toward the top of the shoulders and down through your hips. [See photo above.]
4 Foam Roller Mistakes to Avoid
1 Avoid rolling directly onto your lower vertebrae. “Your lower back muscles will contract to help protect the spine which can cause discomfort or injury,”he says.
2 Do not hold your breath, though it’s tempting when discomfort hits. Instead, says Dipple, take long deep breaths as you roll in order to increase blood flow to the working muscles and gain more benefit from every session.
3 Stop rolling evenly to each side. “If it’s your right leg that has an issue, do spend more time on that side. Don’t neglect your other leg, but don’t worry about doing exactly the same on both sides,” Dipple says. Focus on the muscles and joints that need more TLC, even if that’s mostly on one side of your body.
4. Avoid rolling too quickly! Longer, slower, more measured strokes will send effective messages to the brain, telling your muscles to relax.
*information from BB blog*