Foam rolling has become widely accepted in the fitness world as a great tool for muscle recovery. When this "trend" first came out people were unsure if the benefits were worth the extra time it takes after or even before a workout. Well I'm here to tell you, foam rolling also known at self-myofascial release (smr) is becoming a fundamental component to muscle stretching and recovery. Let's take a look!
Foam rolling is the process of taking a foam roller to your muscles, rolling the muscle until finding the most tender of spots, also referred to as a node or knot within the muscle fibers. This knot is a stress spot causing tension throughout your muscles. Once you have located this point of stress, you will focus on holding the foam roller here, breathing slow and controlled, mentally imagining the pressure on this spot, holding for no less than 30 seconds or until you feel this spot start to relax. Repeating as necessary!
Traditionally stretching is still a key component to helping your muscles relax but unfortunately does not release the contracted knots within our muscle fibers. As pictured, you can see how a healthy muscle fiber is free of any knots, with this case we will have full range of motion and the proper function of our muscles fibers.
However, the muscle fibers that hold these areas of tension can then extend to other muscle groups unintentionally causing a point of stress! Imagine you have a string from your shoulder to your buttocks, and someone is pulling on that string square in the middle of your back causing your upper back to pull down and your pelvic region to pull up, thus causing tension! If we take the time to release the "pull" within our muscles we can relax our back and pelvic back to their natural states, thus eliminating the stress from both areas! This is how a knot works! It inhibits your muscles from functioning within their full range of motion as well as causing tension beyond the muscle group it is associated.
Foam rolling can be incorporated into your workout before and after. When performed before working out, you will be setting your muscles up for success, alleviating stress' will help you have better blood flow, better range of motion. Additionally, this will prevent your muscles from altered reciprocal inhibition which is the term of a tight muscle (primary mover) not performing causing the antagonist muscle (opposite muscle that helps) to do all the work, thus preventing you from properly working the muscle group. By eliminating these knots pre-workout you are setting yourself up for a strong and successful workout!
Post-workout foam rolling is just as important! Like I already stated, traditional stretching before and after your workout will do just that, stretch those tight muscles out but it won't put a primary focus on the contracted muscles fibers. Incorporating foam rolling after your workouts will stretch your muscles deeper, as well as working out any tension that is building up within our muscle groups. You would perform your foam rolling as described above ensuring your muscles are going to recover and release tension, be in balance and perform together.
When we take the time to understand the importance of foam rolling and the benefits it provides for our muscles, we will then have a better understanding of the importance of recovery overall. Taking the time to foam roll the tense, knotted muscles fibers before and after our workouts, we are allowing our muscle groups to recovery properly and well as allowing them to perform their proper functions when exercising. Using this technique will ensure that you giving yourself the best chance for full muscle recovery as well as a stronger workouts in the long run. Give it a try! I dare you!
Thank you for taking the time in reading my blog about Foam Rolling! I appreciate all the support! Have a great day!