Chronically Tight Muscles? Foam Rolling May May Be Your New Best Friend.
Gone are the days when you have to pay $100 or more to get a professional massage to loosen up your tight, overworked muscles and make sure they are ready to perform at an ideal level. Foam rolling has become an easy, affordable way to get the relief you need from chronically tight muscles.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a cylindrical or log-shaped device made from hard, solid foam. It can be purchased at many sporting goods and big box stores. Think of it as a rolling pin… and you are the dough. (But firm, muscley, good lookin’ dough!)
How does it work?
Exercise causes your muscles to break down, repair themselves, break down, and then repair themselves again. When this happens, the fascia, or the connective tissue between your muscles, thickens in an attempt to protect your muscles from further damage. This thickened fascia causes knots or “trigger points” to form in your muscles, reducing your range of motion and causing pain.
The key to using a foam roller is to find and target these trigger points in your muscles. By placing pressure on these areas with a foam roller, blood flow increases in the trigger points, which smooths them out and relieves the pain. This process is called “myofascial release”.
How do I use a foam roller?
Place the roller on the floor and position your body so the muscle you want to target is on top of the roller. Relax. Gently roll back and forth, using your body weight to create pressure, pausing on any sore or tender spots. Be sure to breathe deeply while you roll.
How can a foam roller help me?
While not all muscles in your body are accessible via a foam roller, some of the most common areas that can be successfully targeted are the IT band, calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, and upper/lower back. A foam roller can also be used while standing with the roller against a wall to target muscles in the arms, shoulders, etc.
A few cautions: First, you should always consult with a medical professional before starting any new health or fitness plan, including foam rolling. Also, keep in mind that if you feel pain while using a foam roller, it should be mild, similar to the type of pain you feel while stretching. If the pain becomes intense or something just doesn’t feel right, stop immediately and consult with your doctor.
At 360° Fitness, we are committed to helping you achieve your goals and become your best possible self. If you have questions about foam rolling or any other fitness concerns, please contact us today.