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Top 6 Benefits of Self Myofascial Release or Foam Rolling

Top 6 Benefits of Self Myofascial Release or Foam Rolling

A lot of gym goers would probably start their workout routine with a warm-up. Yes, fitness experts would definitely suggest to warm-up because it prepares our muscles for the exercises that you will perform. Besides a warm-up, fitness experts also recommend to massage or roll your muscles before starting your workout routine. Let’s find out why.

Self-Myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling is a type of soft tissue therapy that focuses on the nerves and connective tissues. According to Michael Clark, CSCS, in order for you to understand the magical effects of foam rolling, you will need a basic understanding of kinetic chain. Our body is a kinetic chain, which works as an integral functional unit. It exists interdependently. If one joint is not working efficiently, then the other joint will compensate, which will lead to muscle imbalances, tissue overload, fatigue, and injuries. Let’s say that you want to perform squat, but your hamstrings are tight which restricts the range of motion. Because of the muscle restrictions, joint motion is compensated, thus sending wrong signals to our Central Nervous System (CNS), which might lead to imbalances, injuries and the like.

According to National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), here are some benefits of Self Myofascial Release:

1. Corrects Muscle Imbalances

SMR helps our muscles relax and at the same time provides optimal length-tension relationship, which helps avoid muscle restrictions when we perform an exercise, so it will give a positive feedback to our CNS.

2. Improves Joint Range of Motion

SMR can basically break the knots (which restrict our range of motion) in our muscles, which can help us use our full range of motion.

3. Relieves Muscle Soreness and Joint Stress

SMR speeds up recovery because of better blood circulation in the body.

4. Improves Neuromusclar Efficiency

SMR is good for blood circulation hence, it also provides better oxygenation in our muscles.

5. Relaxes our Muscles

Foam rolling helps our muscles relax by activation of sensory receptors connecting our muscle fibers to our tendons.

6. Provides Optimal Length-Tension relationships

According to Joe Hashey,CSCS, foam rolling lengthens your muscles and breaks up adhesion and scar tissues.

And here are my suggested foam roll exercises before you start your usual routine:

Place the foam roll or grid under your calf (R) and put your (L) leg on top to add pressure. Lift your hips up then roll (at least 2-4 inches) for 8-10 repetitions or 30 seconds per leg.

2. Quadriceps

Position yourself in a plank position. Place the foam roll or grid under your quadriceps (both legs) above your knees. Roll from your knees to your hips for 8-10 repetitions or 30 seconds.

3. Hamstrings

Place the foam roll under your thigh (L), then move your hips forward and back to roll your hamstrings with the help of your ankle (flex and extend). Roll it for 8-10 repetitions or 30 seconds. To add pressure, you may put your (R) hand on top of your thigh.

4. Adductors

Start with plank position, as seen in the picture, then place the foam roll under your adductors. Then roll towards your hips 8-10 repetitions and extend your knee 8-10 repetitions to add pressure.

5. Glutes

Place the foam roll underneath your (R) gluteus maximus (meaty part). To add a little bit of pressure, you have the option to place your (r) foot on top of your (L) knee (as seen in the picture), then roll your glutes back and forth for 8-10 repetitions or 30 seconds.

6. Thoracic Spine

Start with lying position with bent knees. Place the foam roll on your upper back. Place your hands behind your ears to add pressure. Then, lift the hips up and roll for 8-10 (4 inches) repetitions or 30 seconds. Do not place the foam roll on your lower back because it is not recommend.

At 360 Fitness Club, we offer SMRT CORE FLUSH classes that will definitely help you reduce pain and tension in your muscles, restore your muscle length, and will provide your muscles an optimum joint range of motion. If you haven’t tried it, now is your chance and surely you will love it.

6 Powerful Foam Roller Benefits for Your Daily Routine

Last Updated on December 6, 2019

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There are many foam roller benefits. The most important reason being due to myofascial release.

Myofascial release is no secret in the fitness community. In fact, therapists and masseuses use the concepts of myofascial release to treat athletes and have been doing so for decades.

Now, with the advent of foam rollers, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can instantly improve their workouts and decrease their risk of injury.

The best thing about foal rollers s that you can get many of the benefits of a therapist or masseuse from the comfort of your own home with this inexpensive piece of workout equipment.

But if you’re not sure if using a foam roller is for you, then here are six ways it can have a positive impact on your exercise routine. Followed by some sample movements you can do to get all of these foam roller benefits.

What is Myofascial Release

First, lets define myofascial release, in case you are unfamiliar with the term. Myofascial release is the application of low-intensity forces to soft tissues over a long period of time. Essentially, the purpose is to allow contracted muscles to relax, which improves blood flow and nutrient flow to the area. The effect is that muscles operate with smoother motion because of reduced internal rubbing.

What are the Foam Roller Benefits?

A foam roller is a simple piece of equipment that anyone can use for self-myofascial release. Self-myofascial release, or self-massage, is a great habit for athletes and weight lifters alike. This is because the health benefits increase fitness at a very affordable price. For instance, a one-hour massage costs in excess of $50, while foam rollers are readily available for $30 and less.

Foam Rollers We Recommend

What will a Foam Roller Do?

Not only are foam rollers inexpensive and readily available, they improve health and reduce injury risk in six ways:

1. Increased Blood Flow

Myofascial release via foam rolling exercises stretches and loosens muscles. By applying force to your muscles and connective tissue over time, blood is squeezed out and replaced by a flood of fresh blood.

Blood carries vital nutrients such as oxygen and glycogen to spent muscles. The greater amount of blood flow leads to various related and beneficial results.

2. Improved Movements

Better hydrated and looser muscles move past one another with less friction. This means that during a workout, movements are smoother and muscles are less likely to be pulled or damaged.

Foam rolling before a workout as part of a dynamic warm-up is especially effective for myofascial release.

3. Better Range of Motion

Another related advantage to self-massage is the improved range of motion of properly stretched and lubricated muscles.

A larger range of motion means that more muscle can be recruited in a given workout, leading to a more effective routine. Better range of motion indicates more flexibility, which leads to the fourth advantage of foam rolling habits.

4. Decreased Injury Risk

As stated before, self-massage increases circulation throughout the body. Better circulation means a better range of motion and more effective body movements.

Overall, myofascial release from foam rolling reduces the chance of injury because coordination of the body is improved. This means that the likelihood of an improper movement leading to injury is reduced significantly.

On the flip side, if an injury does occur, self-massage techniques can be used to decrease recovery time.

5. Decreased Recovery Time

Foam rolling is an effective means to draw blood to an injured area but also decreases recovery time between workouts. This is especially true of foam rolling after a workout has been completed.

After a workout, muscles, and joints become sore because of the build-up of waste products such as lactic acid. When performed post-workout, self-massage acts to wash the acid away by recruiting fresh blood and nutrients to the fatigued muscle groups.

The faster that exhausted muscles can receive adequate nutrients for recovery, the faster they can rebuild.

6. Faster Results

All of the positives of myofascial release lead to a decreased recovery time and a lower chance of injury.

If an athlete stays healthy over time while being able to exercise more frequently, then they will inherently produce faster results. Foam rolling is a simple solution to a complex problem with great benefits to practitioners.

When Should I Perform Self-Massage?

Self-massage is best performed before and after a workout. This is because by properly warming up muscles and loosening the body before a workout, the risk of injury is decreased. Pre-workout self-massage also has the indirect effect of increasing the effectiveness of a given workout by training more muscle fibers.

On the other hand, foam rolling post-workout helps to speed recovery. This can be attributed to the flushing of waste products and increased blood flow to fatigued muscles. The new blood supplies the nutrients that the body needs to recover after exertion.

However, if an athlete does not have time for pre and post-workout foam rolling sessions, then pre-workout foam rolling is the priority. No other warm-up technique can prepare a body for a heavy workload and improve performance like a myofascial release.

What Types of Movements Should Be Done on a Foam Roller?

The convenience, versatility, and simplicity of a foam roller are astonishing. Almost any muscle group can be massaged and stretched. That includes the upper body and lower body muscles of the front and back.

Foam rolling can yield pain relief to any part of the body, so it should be used wherever relief is needed. In general, there are several problem spots common for all athletes that some can get some great results from working the areas with a foam roller.

Foam Rolling the Back

The back is perhaps the easiest area to foam roll and it feels great. Anyone who sits in traffic or works at a computer knows the tension that can build in the back. To release the tension in the back and increase rotational flexibility, start be lying with the roller under your shoulder blades.

Lying with your glutes off the ground and your hands on your chest, roll towards your head, stopping at any sore points. Return to the start position and repeat the movement. Be careful to support your neck and don’t put undue pressure on the spine. Keep the weight of your body supported with your back on the roller.

Foam Rolling the IT Bands

This group of muscles and tendons on the side of the thigh is infamously one of the most painful to foam roll. However, IT band myofascial release is perhaps one of the most beneficial types of release for active people. The IT band runs from the knee to the hip and if inflamed causes many types of lower body discomfort.

To relieve pain in the IT bands, start in a side plank position with the roller just below the hip joint. Use your hands and off foot for support as you roll along the outer thigh down to the knee. When you find a tender spot, pause and let the weight of your body work out the knot.

Then, continuing rolling until there are no longer any tight spots. With consistent use, the act of self-massaging the IT bands will become less painful.

Foam Rolling the Calves

The calves are an oft-forgotten muscle group in training and stretching. Unfortunately, continued neglect can lead to tight calves and less than optimal ankle joint function.

To release the calves position the roller on the calf muscle below the knee. Then, support your upper body on your hands, with your bottom off the floor. Finally, roll over the calves to the ankles and back up to the knee.

To alternate the stretch and release, vary the position of your toes. Point them up, down and to the sides to reach different parts of the muscles. The back, IT bands, and calves are just some of the most effective foam rolling exercises. But as I mentioned, a foam roller can be used on almost any body part for great results.

Foam Roll to Maximize Fitness

Self-myofascial release is a great way to cheaply and easily improve your overall health. A simple $20 foam roller can provide years of pain relief and injury prevention.

Consider adding a foam roller to your fitness arsenal. All the muscles of your body will be happy you did and the results of you hard work in the gym will come more quickly and less painfully. To learn how to do more foam roller exercises, check out “The Ultimate Foam Roller Exercise Guide: 25+ Amazing Moves.”

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The Benefits of Foam-Rolling — And 8 Foam Roller Exercises

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Also referred to as self-myofascial release, foam-rolling is essentially a form of self-massage that allows you to apply deep pressure to certain points of the body to release tightness and muscular tension. Adding foam roller exercises into your workout routine can help prevent muscle soreness, tightness, and more.

The Benefits of Foam-Rolling

The idea behind foam-rolling exercises is that by applying direct and sweeping high mechanical loads to muscles and tissues, you stretch and massage the underlying tissues. This is believed to reduce thickening, adhesion, and tension of the fascia and muscle, and can potentially reduce fatigue, improve recovery, and enhance range of motion.

According to Peter Dipple, head of sports and massage at the London-based Ten Health & Fitness, “Foam-rolling can help promote blood flow and break down scar tissue. It could also help maintain normal muscle length, reduce pain and soreness, increase range of motion, and aid in recovery. Foam-rolling is a great way to help relax your muscles. Even those who are inactive could see benefits, as foam-rolling exercises can help relax muscles that may have become tight from sitting at a desk all day.”

How Often Should You Use a Foam Roller?

Ideally, every day. “The more you foam-roll, the more your muscles respond to it,” says Dipple. “Ideally, you should do it daily — as you would stretching — although ease yourself into it by gradually building up the number of sessions you do.”

He recommends dedicating 10 to 20 minutes per session to foam-rolling exercises at least once a day to simply get out the kinks. “When you find an area of tension, work around it for about 30 seconds using short, slow rolls and follow this up with longer, slower (and more soothing) strokes over the whole length of the muscle.”

As for the hurting thing? Well, it might feel uncomfortable, especially when you first start doing foam-rolling exercises. “When you’re working an area of tension, you’re applying your body weight to a tender area so you may well feel some discomfort,” says Dipple. “But if the pain is excruciating, stop immediately.” He also advises seeking advice from a professional before foam-rolling if you’re suffering from a serious injury or chronic condition like diabetes.

8 Simple Foam Roller Exercises

Relieve sore muscles and improve your recovery time with these eight foam roller exercises. Keep reading to learn about four common foam-rolling mistakes you should avoid, and our recommendations on the best foam rollers out on the market.

1. Calves

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight, ankles crossed left over right, and a foam roller under your right ankle.
  • Place your hands on either side of your butt and lift it off the floor, rolling your right calf muscle over the roller — from ankle to knee — a few times with your toes pointed up.
  • Repeat with your leg rotated inward (so you’re rolling the inside portion of your calf), and then again with your leg rotated outward.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

2. Hamstrings

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight and a foam roller under your thighs. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your butt.
  • Lift your butt and use your hands to roll the entire length of your hamstrings — from just below your butt to your knees — over the roller.

3. Iliotibial (IT) Bands

  • Lie on your left side with with your legs straight and a foam roller under your left hip.
  • Placing your hands on the floor for support, cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot flat on the floor by your left knee.
  • Use your hands to roll the side of your upper leg over the roller several times.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

4. Quads

  • Lie facedown on the floor with your legs straight and a foam roller under your quads. Prop yourself up on your forearms.
  • Slowly roll your quad muscles from the tops of your legs to the tops of your knees.

5. Gluteal muscles

  • Sit on a foam roller with your right foot flat on the floor and your left leg crossed over your right thigh. Place either both of your hands or only your left hand on the floor behind you for support.
  • Tilt your body to your left so that your left glute presses against the roller.
  • Roll forward and backward several times, and then repeat on your right side.

6. Inner Thigh

  • Lie on your stomach, propping yourself up with your forearms, and bring your right knee up to your side at a 90-degree angle.
  • Place a foam roller under your right thigh parallel with you body.
  • Slowly roll from your groin to the inside of your knee several times.
  • Switch legs and repeat.

7. Back

  • Lie face-up with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, butt lifted off the floor, and a foam roller under your mid-back.
  • Place your fingertips gently behind your ears or cross your arms in front of your chest, and slowly roll the entire length of your back from your shoulders on downward.
  • Alternatively, you can focus on different areas of your back, rolling just your upper back several times before moving on to your mid-back and then finally your lower back.

8. Lats

  • Lie on your right side with your legs straight, your right arm extended above your head, and a foam roller under your armpit.
  • Place your left hand on the floor in front of you for support, and place your left foot on the floor behind your right leg.
  • Use your left hand and foot to slowly roll your right side from your armpit to below your ribcage several times.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

4 Foam Roller Mistakes to Avoid

1. Avoid rolling directly onto your lower vertebrae.

Dipple says, “Your lower back muscles will contract to help protect the spine which can cause discomfort or injury.”

2. Do not hold your breath, though it’s tempting when discomfort hits.

Instead, says Dipple, take long deep breaths as you roll in order to increase blood flow to the working muscles and derive more of the benefits of foam-rolling exercises.

3. Stop rolling evenly on each side.

“If it’s your right leg that has an issue, spend more time on that side,” says Dipple. “Don’t neglect your other leg, but don’t worry about doing exactly the same on both sides.” Focus on the muscles and joints that need more TLC, even if they are mostly on one side of your body.

4. Avoid rolling too quickly!

Longer, slower, more measured rolls while taking deep breaths will cause your brain to send a message to your muscles to relax.

Try One of Our Favorite Foam Rollers!

My Mini Roller. At just 5.5 inches, this mini roller targets smaller areas like the foot, forearm, shin, or calf. And since it’s mini, it can easily fit into your purse or gym bag.

GRID Foam Roller. The 3D surface has a number of bands of varying widths designed to replicate the feel of a massage therapists’ hands. Comes in fun colors, too.

NextRoller Vibrating Fitness Roller. You read that right, this foam roller vibrates! When it’s charged up, this roller vibrates in three different speeds to increase circulation while breaking down your fascia. This circulation helps warm up the muscles as well as reduces muscle soreness for better recovery.

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How to Use: Foam Rollers

Try this at-home remedy for sore muscles. By Asia Bradlee· 10/25/2016, 3:11 p.m.

Read all about the latest gym openings, healthy events, and fitness trends in our twice weekly Wellness newsletter.

Sure, you know how to use treadmills and hand weights. But what about all the other equipment in your gym? In this series, we’ll cut the intimidation factor and give you new tools for getting your best workout.

Foam Rollers

Post-Spin class, your endorphins will be flowing. But when you drag yourself out of bed the next day, you likely won’t be feeling that same exercise high.

Sore muscles are a great reminder that you’re getting stronger—but all the positive reinforcement in the world won’t change the fact that you can’t walk up stairs after a particularly tough HIIT class. That’s where foam rolling comes in.

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is the process of alleviating trigger points in sore muscles. Using a foam roller helps to locate tender muscle areas, then reduce pain through pressure. It can also help prevent injury and increase your range of motion.

Foam rolling can be done after your workout, before, or any time you feel like you need a light massage. Here’s how to use foam rollers to soothe your muscles:

Calves

Place the foam roller at mid-calf. Cross your left leg over your right to increase the pressure. Roll until you locate a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Repeat with the other leg.

Hamstrings

Place the foam roller under your right hamstring. Roll until you locate a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds. Repeat with the left leg.

You can also place the roller under both hamstrings and roll them out at the same time, if preferred.

IT Band

The IT band is the ligament that runs down the outside of your leg, from the hip to the shin. Inflammation of the IT band is a common side effect or running, or any exercise that causes the leg to turn inward. It can often manifest itself as knee pain.

To release tension in the IT band, lie on one side, with the roller at the top of the thigh. Cross the top leg over the bottom one for stabilization. Roll from the hip joint to the knee until you find a tender spot, and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Repeat on the other side.

Glutes

Sit on the foam roller, placing it directly under the glutes. Cross your left foot over your right knee and roll until you find a tender spot. Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds, until discomfort is reduced.

Repeat on the left side.

A Beginner’s Guide to Foam Rolling for Tight, Sore Muscles

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Too sore to get out of bed? I know how that feels. 🙂

Muscle soreness one or two days after an intense workout is completely normal and can be caused by aerobic or anaerobic activities.. It can be especially bad if you haven’t exercised for a long period of time or if you’ve upped the ante of your current workout program.

It’s known as DOMS:

Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS is micro-damage caused to the muscle fibers and connective tissue from exercise. DOMS is a harmless condition that typically lasts a few days.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to help reduce that tight and sore muscle feeling more quickly than nature? Ten years ago, I probably would have told you to tough it out. However, now I have a much better suggestion: Foam Rolling!

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which is just a fancy term for self-massage. Foam rolling releases the tightness and knots that form within the muscle by helping to elongate the muscle tissue by breaking up scar tissue and any trigger points.

What’s a trigger point? A trigger point is an area in the muscle that can lead to pain in other areas of the body. For example, a trigger point in the back muscle could be causing your neck pain.

Foam rolling also helps bring more blood to the muscles. This increase of circulation helps speed up the muscle recovery process. A side benefit of foam rolling is that it will also help with flexibility – something you can never have too much of.

The Fundamentals of Foam Rolling

Here are the basic rules of foam rolling:

  • Roll slowly – you should not be moving at more than one inch per second
  • Pressure to the muscle group you are working should be moderate – think Goldilocks, but in this case, not too hard, not too soft…just right
  • This pressure should produce a slight amount of discomfort. While foam rolling can make you feel really wonderful after the fact, it isn’t always the most pleasant experience
  • If discomfort becomes painful, you have found a muscle knot/trigger point
  • When a knot is found, do not continue to roll – instead, pause for 5-30 seconds and rock the area that is knotted back and forth slightly (side to side if you were rolling up and down.) The knot should release within that timeframe, but if it doesn’t, workaround and back to the area again until it does

Lower Body Foam Rolling Exercises

How to Foam Roll the Calves

  1. Begin by resting your lower leg (think Achilles tendon) on the foam roller. Your toes should be pointing upward throughout the movement. If you need more pressure, cross your non-working leg over your other leg.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground and slowly roll the entire calf muscle from bottom to the top, which should end up just below your knee. When you hit an area where you feel a knot(you’ll know when!), stop and apply pressure to this area – then continue on.

TIP: You should also hit the inner and outside areas of your calves by turning the leg in and out. For most people, the inside area of the calf is the tightest.

How to Foam Roll the Hamstrings

  1. Start by placing the foam roller at the top of the hamstring, right below your butt.
  2. Work the roller down towards the knee. Again, pause until any tightness dissipates.

TIPS: To add more pressure, cross one leg over the other. As with the calves, be sure to hit the entire muscle by angling your leg in and out.

How to Foam Roll the Glutes

Tight glutes can be the cause of a lot of pain elsewhere in the body, specifically in the knees and the lower back. Foam rolling the glutes can release these trigger points, allowing for pain-free movement. If you have sciatic pain, this foam rolling exercise is a must.

  1. To begin, sit with one leg crossed over other while sitting on top of the foam roller. You should almost be sitting directly on top of the foam roller with the roller at the top of your glute muscle towards your lower back. Lean slightly towards the leg you’re working.
  2. Roll your way down. The entire movement is not more than a few inches, so be careful not to “fall off”.

TIP: Shift your body weight to the center and then lean to the other hip to hit the different areas of your glute, and then move on to the other side.

How to Foam Roll Quadriceps

Tight quadriceps can lead to knee pain and even poor posture.

  1. Lie face down with the foam roller up near your hips. You can either do one leg at a time or two. I like doing two at a time.
  2. Work the roller down to just above the knees.

TIP: As the quads are a very large muscle group, you will want to hit different angles on the foam roller by turning your feet both in and out. You will need to do one leg at a time when working the various angles

How to Foam Roll the IT Band

The IT band is not a muscle, but it is another common source of pain – especially for runners. The IT band is a long series of connective tissue that runs down the outside of the hip down to the outside of the knee.

To foam roll this area:

  1. Lay on your side with the roller just below the hip bone.
  2. Roll down to just above the knee, keeping your forward foot flat on the ground to stabilize your body.

How to Foam Roll the Abductor Muscles

The adductor muscles are the muscles that run along your inner thigh. Tight adductor muscles are a common reason why people feel tight in the hips. Keeping the adductors loose is very important for hip mobility and to obtain the proper form of lower leg exercises such as the squat.

To foam roll the adductors, you are going to have to get into an awkward beginning position. It is by far the most ridiculous position you’ll have to get into.

  1. Place the foam roller under your upper inner thigh. To do this, you will need to lay on your stomach with your knee bent up and out to the side and place the foam roller up near your groin.
  2. You then want to work the roller down towards the knee, but do not tense your inner thigh.

TIP: Make sure to not allow the upper body to turn; your torso should also remain parallel to the ground.

Upper Body Foam Rolling Exercises

How to Foam Roll the Lats

So, now that you know how to foam roll your lower body, it’s time to foam roll your upper body. To foam roll the lat muscles:

  1. Lie on your side with your bottom arm extended, but relaxed. The foam roller should be positioned about midway up the torso just above the bottom of your ribs.
  2. Work the roller towards your shoulder – it should end up being right up in your armpit.

TIPS: Most people are very tight under the shoulder blade (I sure am!) When you hit a tight/painful area, continue to breath and work through it for 5-30 seconds.

As with many of lower leg exercises, you can change the angle to hit a larger area of the muscle group.

How to Foam Roll the Back Muscles

To begin foam rolling the back muscles:

  1. Place the foam roller under the middle of your back. You can gently support your head with your hands clasped behind the back of your head, or you can cross your arms over your chest – whatever’s more comfortable. Lift your hips up off the floor.
  2. Roll your body down, so the roller massages up to the upper shoulders. Keep your hips off the ground for the entire range of motion.

TIP: Remember do not go down to the lower back or up past the shoulders to the neck.

When Can You Perform Foam Rolling Exercises?

  • Before workouts
  • After workouts
  • When you wake-up
  • Before you go to bed
  • When you have the time

What works best for me is foam rolling the muscle groups my weight training workouts will target before and/or after the session. If I am particularly sore, I’ll foam roll at night with some light static stretching work included. I even get sore from going for a hike in the mountains, so a foam roller is a must wherever I go to ensure I’m never too sore to enjoy the next day’s adventures.

For a general foam rolling work, I would recommend the above movements to be done for 1-2 minutes at a time, two-three times per week. This means 1-2 minutes doing both sides and hitting the three angles: inner, outer, and middle. Total, this should take less then 15 minutes per session.

How You Should Feel After Foam Rolling

Foam rolling work should make you feel loose and limber. If your muscles are sore, you should feel immediate relief. You will be able to feel the difference after your first time foam rolling. As you continue with foam rolling over time, you will not feel the same muscle tightness in the areas you once did.

Like exercise, if you want to see the full benefits from foam rolling, you must make it part of your daily workout routine.

What Type of Foam Roller to Buy

I’ve come across two different types of foam rollers. A smooth surfaced foam roller and what is called a rumble roller.

1. The smooth surfaced roller is what you want to begin with. It typically comes in two sizes. The shorter length is fine for the above exercises. You can find them for sale in specialty sporting good stores and of course, online for less than $20, the new TriggerPoint GRID roller has a mixture of harder and softer areas that works well for rolling different areas.

2. The second type of foam roller is named the rumble roller for its uneven surface caused by its protruding nodules. This type of roller really digs into the muscle tissue and is not for people just beginning foam roller exercises. Rumble rollers are more than double the price of their smooth counterparts, but do bring foam rolling to an entirely new level if you’re finding the regular foam roller to be less effective than it used to be.

Are There Foam Rolling Workouts Available?

You can get really good results from the above foam rolling exercises. There really are not any real workout programs on DVD that focus solely on foam rolling movements, although you can find some supposed workout moves in magazines. However, these will never be as effective as a regimen of cardio and weight training with foam rolling exercises added in.

The only program I am aware of is at the beginning of the Tai-Cheng workout, which contains about 10-15 minutes of foam rolling and dynamic stretching to work on mobility retention.

If you have foam rolled before, I am curious as to what type of results you are getting with this new technique. Please share your experiences below.

Soothe Sore Muscles With These 7 Foam-Rolling Moves

You do stretching exercises, you warm-up, you ice, you even take Epsom-salt baths (OK, just that one time). But if you really want to take care of your sore muscles, in addition to all that you should learn about the benefits of foam rolling. The foam roller is a small device that can provide relief from existing muscle soreness when you get in the habit of using it to put pressure on your muscles. There’s no better way to help prevent future pain after, say, a particularly serious kettlebell workout.

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Foam rolling is what exercise experts refer to as “self-myofascial release,” a fancy way of saying that you use your own body weight to apply pressure to muscle tissues (fascia), thereby releasing tension. The benefits of foam rolling are twofold: First, it helps muscles relax so there is less tension on tendons and bones in your body. Second, it increases your mobility and range of motion, thereby lowering your risk of straining a muscle when you do something like lunge for a soccer ball or your son’s runaway tricycle.

Designed to imitate the experience of getting a massage, the foam roller has been shown to decrease the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that occurs after a hard workout. But to reap the benefits, you have to know which moves to do — and how to do them right.

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Start with the 7 moves here. In each case, use light to medium pressure (contrary to popular opinion harder is not better and can damage muscle tissue). Do each exercise for 90 seconds and be careful to place the roller under muscle, not bone or joints, for safety.

Back Roll

Start by placing the foam roller on the ground, then lying on top of it (center it so that one end protrudes from either side of your back). Place it in the middle area of your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Push through your feet and slowly straighten your legs, allow your lower back to drifting over the top of the roller until it reaches your hips. Bend knees and roll back in the other direction until the roller reaches just below your shoulders. If the pressure is too intense, prop yourself up on your elbows to relieve some of the weight.

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Glutes Roll

This move helps loosen tight butt muscles, which can pull on already-tight hamstrings, leading to injury. Start on the floor, resting your right butt cheek on the roller. Bend knees and keep feet planted on the floor (you will have to twist them to the right side). Using your right hand or elbow for support, rock back and forth slowly on your right side, adjusting the angle of your hips from straight to sideways to bring the roller in contact with the entire glute surface. Switch to the left side and repeat.

Calf Relaxer

Sit on the floor, legs out in front. Rest your right lower leg on the inside edge of the foam roller so that the end clears contact with your left leg. Bend your left knee, and place hands out the sides and slightly behind your butt. Press through the floor with hands and your left foot to elevate your body so that it is hovering over the floor. Bend and straighten your left leg, allowing the roller to move up and down your right calf. Adjust the pressure by shifting more or less weight from your hands to your calf. Go straight back and forth for 10 rolls, then angle your leg inward so that the roller massages your inner calf. Open your hips outward and repeat so that it works on the outside of your calf. Repeat on the opposite side.

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Hamstring Relaxer

Following the instructions from the calf roll, sit with the inside edge of the foam roller under your right hamstring (upper leg). Bend left knee and place hands out to the side and slightly behind your butt. Raise your body and gently rock so that the foam roller rotates beneath your right hamstring. Use more or less weight on your hands depending on how deep you prefer the pressure. Switch sides and repeat.

Quad Massager

Lie on your stomach with your right leg straight and left leg bent and out to the side. Situate the roller so that it is beneath your right thigh. Propping yourself up on your elbows and using your left foot for leverage, raise your body from the floor and rock forward and back, applying pressure to the roller as it massages your quad muscle.

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Foot Roll

Lay the roller flat on the floor near a wall. Facing the wall, stand on the roller in bare feet, placing hands against the wall for support. Depending on your arch flexibility and foot sensitivity, this position alone may be enough to feel a release in your arch and foot muscles. For a deeper massage, slowly and roll back onto your heels, then forward onto your toes, maintaining control of the roller (the movement will be quite small).

Side Stretch

Lie on the right side, resting the roller beneath your armpit. Stretch your right arm out above your head, and place your bent left arm on the floor in front of you for support. Using your feet to push your body forward, allow your torso to slowly roll over the foam roller until it reaches the bottom of your rib cage. Slowly roll back in the other direction. Switch sides and repeat.

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After a hard workout or a stressful week at work, getting a massage is one of the best acts of self-care you can do for yourself. Unfortunately, unless your partner or roommate is a masseuse, expecting weekly massages isn’t very realistic or affordable.

Massages help to release tight, sore muscles and trigger points — but they aren’t the only way. If you don’t have access to regular massages, we suggest you give foam rolling a try. Foam rolling is an outstanding alternative that provides deep tissue release at a fraction of the price. Plus, you can foam roll whenever, wherever you want!

What is foam rolling?

Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release (SMR). SMR is a technical term for releasing tight muscles, connective tissue (fascia) and trigger points (sensitive points on muscles) with self-massage. Using a tool like a foam roller to apply pressure to these areas often helps relieve tight muscles and cause myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndromes is when pressure applied to trigger points causes pain to radiate to other (seemingly unrelated) areas of the body. The pain you feel in other areas of the body is called referred pain (don’t worry, it’s not a bad thing).

Why should I foam roll?

While the jury is still out on whether foam rolling is the best method for SMR, recent studies have shown that proper foam rolling before or after a workout does have its benefits. In addition to relieving tight and sore muscles, it also improves joint range of motion and overall muscle performance. Here are more reasons why you should use a foam roller:

  • It’s a great way to warm up. Using a foam roller before exercise gets your body warmed up by increasing blood flow to the muscles you’re rolling. So, if you’re about to do a killer leg workout, you’ll benefit from rolling those quads, hamstrings, and calves.

  • It’ll improve the quality of your workouts.When muscles aren’t restricted by tightness, the body can move with more ease and perform exercises correctly.

  • You’ll be less sore later. Studies suggest that foam rolling after a workout can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), meaning you’ll recover a little faster and possibly improve your performance in future workouts.

Foam rolling benefits

It’s time to get a little more specific about the benefits of foam rolling. In addition to warming your body up and reducing soreness, this self-massage technique can:

  • Reduce pesky knots.Intense exercise can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). When you feel sore, you’re essentially feeling pain from microtrauma (tiny tears) in the muscle fibers. Oftentimes, as your body repairs the muscles, small knots form. Foam rolling helps align the muscle fibers and reduce discomfort as the body repairs itself.

  • Flush toxins. Another way foam rolling helps alleviate soreness is by moving lactic acid and carbon dioxide — toxins built up during exercise — out of the muscles and tissues, and into the lymphatic system.

  • Improve circulation. We touched on this above — foam rolling increases blood circulation, which in addition to warming your body up, helps muscles repair faster.

  • Help range of motion.Your range of motion often decreases during exercise and strength training. This is because as muscles grow, they constrict and shorten during recovery. Connective tissue also thickens and tightens in an effort to protect the muscles. Foam rollers aid in the release of tension, allowing muscles to lengthen and return to their original size. This, in turn, improves range of motion.

Why does foam rolling hurt?

Let’s get real, foam rolling isn’t the most relaxing activity out there. In fact, for some, foam rolling is quite painful. However, our coaches say that foam rolling shouldn’t hurt to the point where you’re nearly in tears. Instead, it should feel uncomfortable or similar to muscle soreness, but not something you can’t push through.

But, why does it hurt? During exercise, our muscle tissues tear and rebuild themselves. Applying pressure to these tender areas stimulates our body’s pain receptors, but it shouldn’t be an unbearable level of pain. In fact, if you do feel sharp, sudden pain, it’s best to contact a doctor or sports therapist to see if you actually have an injury.

Should I feel sore after foam rolling?

Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that is supposed to help with DOMs, not cause more. If you are sore after foam rolling, it’s most likely because of your workout, not the foam roller. But, there’s also a chance that you’re doing it incorrectly. Learn how to foam roll properly in our article.

While foam rolling is great to do on your own, if you have any nagging injuries or suspect a pulled muscle, always consult your doctor before adding foam rolling to your exercise routine. If you want to dig into 8fit’s workouts — which also come proper warm-up exercises — sign up here.

Imagine having a personal massage therapist at home. Well you can! The best bit? Once you’ve paid a one-off payment of around £15, it’s free forever more!

How is this possible? We’re talking all about foam rollers. Once you’ve tried one, you’ll never look back. It shouldn’t hurt when you do it, you should just feel an intensity in your muscles. If it does hurt, chances are you need to readjust.

Two to three minutes on each muscle group is usually all you need when rolling. Just remember to try and relax as you go as it can be easily forgotten mid-roll!

Roll, Roll, Roll It Out

What happens when you work out hard, is that your muscles tear ever so slightly. Then as they start to heal, they become a little bit stronger. The more you workout, the stronger you get – simple. Just like when you have a massage therapist knead all your knots out, a foam roller does the same thing. It rolls over all your connective tissue and corrects it along the way. You then benefit from having the same feeling as you do when you’ve had a massage. So without further adue, here are the benefits:

Boost Your Energy and Workouts

Getting rid of all the lactic acid build up in your body gives you much better posture when you sit, stand or move. Tate Wellness founder Si, says, “It helps you move more naturally by improving your range of motion. This consequently means that your muscles function much more effectively when you’re exercising.”

Reduce That Dreaded Exercise Pain

It’s the lactic acid that makes you feel like you’re in pain the day after you’ve had a big workout. Never nice! Foam rolling enables all the blood to reach your muscles though and as a result, it pushes out the lactic acid so you can repair quicker and more pain free. Sounds good!

Prevent Injury

If you’re a runner, cyclist or enjoy HIIT sessions in the gym or if you experience pain in your hips or knees then Si explains that you should look to rolling your quad muscles before your workout. You will significantly reduce your risk of any injury by doing so.

What you shouldn’t do!

Whatever you do, you must avoid rolling directly over any bones, joints, neck, and lower back between your hips and rib cage. If you’re injured, you must always seek medical advice in the first instance. Just think of rolling as for muscles only!

Everything You Know About Lactic Acid Is Wrong

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For a semi-serious athlete, Jeremy Rosenberg is not unusual. The Los Angeles-based book editor is a weekend warrior on the city’s soccer fields, but says he pays for it after most games.

“A couple of hours after I play I feel like what I imagine a whirling dervish does: A post-ecstatic mental state combined with being totally physically drained,” says Rosenberg. “As long as I’m playing, I feel great. But stopping means soreness.”

Rosenberg and his fellow players don’t pretend to be physical therapists or exercise scientists, but they confidently throw around the same term to explain their aching muscles: Lactic acid buildup.

Sounds familiar, right? Only one problem. Rosenberg, many trainers, and even some physicians are making the same mistake — lactic acid isn’t what most people think it is.

What Is Lactic Acid?

“One of the long-standing myths in exercise science and popular culture is that lactic acid causes fatigue,” explains Lance Dalleck, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science at Western State Colorado University. But the body doesn’t produce lactic acid, not even during intense exercise.

“Lactic acid only exists in sour milk,” says Dalleck, “and blood and sour milk have markedly different mediums.”

What People Actually Mean by “Lactic Acid Buildup”

That’s right: when most people talk about “lactic acid buildup,” they are actually talking about lactate, whether they realize it or not — but lactate doesn’t do what they think it does.

It’s not responsible for the burn you feel in your legs after running intervals, nor is it responsible for the soreness you may feel up to 48 hours after a tough workout, as many believe. Indeed, it’s not a waste product of exercise at all.

On the contrary, lactate can help to delay fatigue, and can even serve as a fuel for your muscles, says Dalleck.

How Lactate Got Confused with Lactic Acid

The whole misunderstanding dates back to a study published in 1923 by two British scientists, Otto Meyerhoff and Archibald V. Hill. In their Nobel-Prize winning research investigating the energy capabilities of carbohydrate metabolism in skeletal muscle, they suggested that lactic acid is produced in humans as a side reaction to glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose to fuel muscle activity).

And that’s essentially how it’s been explained ever since: Lactic acid is a sort of residue from your muscles burning fuel, and its buildup is what causes the burn and ache athletes commonly experience during and after intense effort. After all, acid burns, right?

What more recent studies have determined fairly conclusively is that while lactate — not lactic acid — coincides with “acidosis” in muscles, it’s not the cause.

So How Does Lactic Acid Buildup Affect Muscles?

First, we agreed to call it “lactate.”

Second, a quick review of how the body uses and produces energy is probably in order. There are two primary means by which physical activity is powered: aerobic metabolism, which requires oxygen, and anaerobic metabolism, which doesn’t. Both produce ATP, the body’s primary unit of energy, but anaerobic metabolism does it a lot faster, which is why it’s the primary energy system for high-intensity exercise.

But as a consequence, anaerobic metabolism also produces waste products — including hydrogen ions — faster than the body can mop them up. “It’s the increase in these ions that causes acidification, known as acidosis, and that does burn,” says Dalleck.

That’s why you likely start to “feel the burn” quickly during sprints and high intensity interval training (and even weightlifting) compared to, say, jogging. It’s also why you can’t sustain the former activities as long.

Does Lactate Cause Muscle Soreness?

Along with acidosis, lactate is also frequently blamed for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can occur as soon as six hours after exercise, and typically peaks 48 hours afterward. The blame is misplaced here as well, as DOMS is caused by micro-tears in muscle, not the buildup of lactate. Still, there are several steps you can take to ease the ache.

• Pop some ibuprofen (maybe)

The soreness you feel after a tough workout is the result of swelling and inflammation caused by the micro tears mentioned earlier. Popping Ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory, can significantly reduce the pain, according to a study by Greek researchers in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

But that relief may come at a price. An ever-growing body of research has also linked NSAIDs (including ibuprofen) to everything from cardiovascular issues and intestinal dysfunction to suppressed protein synthesis post-exercise. Occasionally taking a couple capsules for muscle soreness is probably just fine — but give some serious thought before using it regularly.

• Take tart cherry extract

Doing so can help reduce DOMS not only after a tough endurance workout, but also after intense resistance training, according to two separate studies (here and here) at Texas A&M University.

Both studies supported the results of previous research, showing that tart cherries can help reduce muscle breakdown and inflammation, thereby reducing soreness.

• Give yourself a massage

Using a foam roller to knead your muscles post-workout can significantly reduce DOMS, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. Give each major muscle group at least five rolls, starting with your calves and working your way up your body. Spend extra time on sore spots.

• Wear compression gear

People who wear compression garments after their workout experience less soreness and faster muscle recovery than people who wear a more traditional gym outfit, like a t-shirt and shorts, according to a recent study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

The reason: By compressing the muscle, such garments help reduce swelling and pressure.

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Rolling out sore muscles

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