Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, is one of the most beneficial recovery methods that many may not utilize (even me on occasion). This tool allows you to target certain areas of your body to release tightness and muscular tension by way of massage. It’s basically like giving your body its own deep-tissue massage, or point of release in your muscles. The goal of myofascial release is to stretch and loosen the fascia so that it can move more freely.
It’s a great exercise tool that’s typically inexpensive and offers many benefits.
- Improved flexibility and range of motion while stretching the fascia
- Helps to prevent injury
- Tends to speed up muscle recovery
- Can be used during a workout
- Increased circulation / boosts lymphatic drainage
- Removes lactic acid buildup and breaks down scar tissue
Myofascial release focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness. It usually involves applying pressure to tight muscles/fascia in an attempt to “release” and alleviate pain. Fascia is an interwoven band of fibrous connective tissues all throughout the body. It’s essentially a framework that holds us together.
Foam rolling allows contracted muscles to relax, improving and increasing blood flow to areas that need it most. It’s used to loosen up common areas of tightness, such as the iliotibial band (IT band), upper back, quadriceps and hamstrings. I oftentimes have tightness in my hip flexors and/or piriformis, so I always make a point to focus rolling out those muscle groups– here are some ways to do so. Overall, it’s a great way to alleviate pressure & help soothe tighter areas or, “trigger points”
HOW TO USE
Slow & Controlled: it’s not about how fast you can roll, take your time and control the motion over each body part. While on the foam roller, try to relax your body as much as possible and focus on breathing slowly. The deep compression allows you to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions around muscles.
SOME THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND…
-never roll directly on a bone or joint, as there’s not much muscle protecting it.
-it can be painful (no secrets here!), but you should never get to the point of excruciating pain. It should also feel good to release tension
-try not to spend more than 20-30 seconds on each area
-rolling directly on the trigger point or injury is not always the source of the problem. Look to roll around areas of connecting muscles around the trigger point
-if you’re a beginner or unsure if you’re doing the exercise properly (with any sort of exercise or physical movement, not just foam rolling), find a certified personal trainer to help you out!
-remember to go slow, aiming for no longer than 30 seconds per area
HOW TO CHOOSE?
There’s a huge variety of foam roller shapes and sizes on the market– some are smooth and some are ribbed and have knobs for extra pressure points. The shape and size matters when choosing the perfect foam roller for you. The longer varieties are more stable and a good option for your back, but the smaller are obviously more portable, but smaller, creating instability and in turn, challenging the body’s core when rolling out.
It might be helpful to start out with a softer, more smooth foam roller to get used to the feel and technique of foam rolling. After that, you might think about advancing to a ribbed/rigid roller, a foam ball or even the Vyper 2.0 vibrating roller or even their Hypervolt. The Hypverolt is a cordless massage device that really targets the muscle to help relax and improve mobility of sore & stiff muscles. I have both any I’m obsessed. I love using before workouts to warm up my muscles and especially after workouts / on recovery days.