Rollin' With the Hammies
Foam rolling. Oooo. It hurts so good!
While foam rolling - "self-myofascial release" if we're going to get technical - can feel like a cruel form of medieval torture, it does work, you guys.
Foam rolling is a lot like getting a sports massage, except it doesn't cost an arm and a leg and, unlike a massage therapist, can be stored in your closet or under your bed.
Much like a masseuse would knead out "knots" in your back, by applying pressure with a foam roller to the locations in your muscles that hurt the most, you can get rid of adhesions in the muscle and connective tissue. If not treated, these adhesions can create points of weakness, making that point more susceptible to injury. Foam rolling increases blood flow which aids in recovery and promotes improved mobility and performance. Yay!
Sounds rad, right? I'll take that from a $9 piece of foam any day!
Here's the thing... the thang... the whole shebang...
It only works if you're doing it right. If you are improperly foam rolling, you could be injuring your body further.
Here are a couple of dos and donts of foam rolling:
#1 Make sure you are giving your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax.
No, you don't need to give yourself a pep talk before foam rolling, but you do need to take it slow. I see so many people in the gym swiftly rolling back and forth over their muscles, and this might feel quite nice, but you won't be eliminating those pesky muscle adhesions by rolling out this way.
Try feeling for tender spots with the roller. When you get to that spot, hold the foam roller in that place for a few seconds then roll slowly over that area, increasing the pressure over 10-20 seconds.
#2 Check your posture.
Wait, what? What does posture have to do with foam rolling?
Remember that the way you roll a lot of the muscles require you to support your body in different ways. For example, when you roll out your quadricep muscles, you are pretty much holding a plank. If you aren't mindful of your posture, you run the risk of injuring other parts of your body.
If you can, work with a personal trainer who will be able to show you the proper form for each muscle group. Alternatively, foam roll in front of a mirror or set up your phone to record yourself foam rolling so you can see what you are doing correctly and to see what you are doing wrong.
For less than the amount you'd tip your massage therapist, you can have just about the same results from a foam roller. There are many different kinds of rollers, some fancy, and some basic. I use a very basic, no frills foam roller. It cost less than a large pizza, and I'm giving these hammies (hamstrings) the tender loving care they deserve!
Keeping It Real,