Right lets get right in there and start with the Benefits of Foam Rolling before we discuss anything else:
Increased blood flow throughout the body
Reduced risk of injury
Decreased recovery time
Increased Range of Motion
Lengthening of short muscles
Breakdown/loosen knots and trigger points
Breakdown of lactic acid (post training – esp running)
Breakdown scar tissue
Aid further stretching
The benefits of foam rolling have to do with the mobility of the fascia. Fascia is a fibrous layer of connective tissue that surrounds all of the muscles in our body. Without proper mobility, fibres of the fascia become cross linked and they bind to muscles and nerves, inhibiting normal motion and causing pain…..and bringing on those so called “knots” and aches and pains we so often feel (especially very active people and runners)
Foam Roller is another name for “Self-myofascial release” and is often called the “poor man’s massage.” Myofascial release is a hands-on technique that massage therapists have been using for years. To achieve this release, a therapist would apply a low load, long duration dragging force across layers of soft-tissue in the body. After a period of time, through some different mechanisms in the body, the body will “release” the tissue and mobility between those sliding surfaces is restored.
You will create a “love-hate” relationship with your foam roller, kind of like you might with a Sports Massage Therapist. I know I do…at the time it can be really painful (but saying this you should never push yourself to the point of excessive soreness) but you know in your mind that in the long run and afterwards it’ll be so worth it.
After injury, new layers of fascia are laid down as scar tissue. If this tissue isn’t broken up, mobilized, and properly aligned, it can cause problems in the future. Even if you had an injury a while ago (months to years) it can still creep up on you and cause problems. Scar tissue from past injuries will inhibit normal tissue mobility and function
Stretching alone is not always enough to release muscles tightness, which is why foam rollers have become so popular. Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unaltered.
A Foam Roller can never replace the power and expertise of a Therapist but for a daily use they come in very handy and are cost effective. They range from £15-£50 depending on where you buy them
After a Foam Rolling session you muscles will feel like they have been worked/released (just like a massage), but as I mentioned earlier it should never be to the point of excessive soreness. Always make sure you drink plenty of water, eat clean and sleep – to help the body flush toxins and repair.