Foam Rolling 101
Foam Rolling over the years has become more and more popular and are no longer seen just in Crossfit Boxes and WL facilities anymore. They are a common sight amongst leisure facilities, military bases, council gyms etc. The benefits are well known and are used by world elite athletes right down to weekend warriors as an easy and cost effective way of releasing aches and pains from the body.
On a basic level foam rolling helps release tight spots in the muscle allowing that muscle to function again optimally. If you think of our muscle as a bunch of wires all laid out alongside each other, these constantly move when contracting and relaxing and through exercise and general day to day activities these “wires” can become knotted and just not aligned as they should be. This effects the way the muscle can function and can lead to tight spots and loss of mobility/flexibility and can also be painful. Foam rolling kind of mimics a physiotherapist hands and can iron out these bad spots within the muscle allowing better blood flow, function and mobility back to the muscle.
Below is a picture of what’s called Adhesions, this is what surrounds the fibres and preventing them from performing optimally and the foam roller can help break these adhesions down and make it easier for the body to get rid of them allowing the muscle to remain healthy.
Foam rollers and the sort can come in all shape, sizes and price range. My advice would to be to invest in a decent hard wearing foam roller that will last years and will pay for itself in the long run. The other bits and bobs such as the mobility balls, peanuts etc. I would only begin to look in to these when you are advanced on the foam roller as for newbies the experience can and most probably will be very painful.
Rolling can be done pretty much over the entire area of the body including Thoracic Spine, Lats, Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, ITB, Adductors, Calf. The mobility balls and tools can get in to finer areas of the body such as the feet, traps etc. Or if you want a deeper massage in to the larger muscle groups but this can be extremely painful.
There is some debate as to whether these work but a lot of people swear by them with me being included. I have a number of mobility tools depending on the muscle groups I’m wanting to target and also what is easy for me to carry around when travelling. Best thing to do is to invest in one and give it a try for yourself.
Some of the benefits reported include:
- Reduced DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness)
- Increased Range of Movement
- Less knots
- Increased Blood Flow to muscles
- Reduce risk of Injury
- Increased Recovery
For relatively a low cost on a foam roller the potential benefits are huge and worth the risk to see if it works for you.