07 Dec FOAM ROLLING // WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT + PRACTICES
Stretching or even yoga alone is not always enough to release tightness in our body. Adding a foam roller (or foam rolling) to any yoga practice and fitness routine is a tool i’ve found very helpful for myself as well as for my clients.
WHY OUR MUSCLES FEEL TIGHT
Our muscles are supposed to be elastic and ready to perform whenever we need them to. Feeling tight in your [skeletal] muscles or in your body in general can often result from:
* a sedentary lifestyle
* hard and/or excessive training
* lack of rest
* lack of flexibility
* repetitive movement patterns
* poor posture
* poor nutrition
* lack of hydration
* high levels of stress
HOW A FOAM ROLLER CAN HELP
Foam rolling is fairly inexpensive, easy-to-do and a very effective tool in relieving tightness in the body. It’s a great way to self-massage; and with the compression that is formed the foam roller helps break up muscle knots, increase blood flow and hydration to the tissue around your muscles. This tissue that covers your muscles is connective tissue or Fascia. Foam rolling is often also called self-myofascial release. Fascia is being researched a lot and it’s broader than just covering muscles, but for the purpose of this blog post and the video i am sharing with you today, we are focusing on treating our skeletal muscles. (I can cover this more in-depth at a later date, if you are interested, please let me know.)
When the fascia gets dehydrated we feel stiff and deep compression helps restore healthy fascia; so we feel less stiff, or not stiff at all. It can help us move more freely, even be pain free and perform our exercise with freedom of movement.
A foam roller can be used in many ways; you can do different kinds of exercises on it and do the self-massage foam rolling. The benefits range from increased core strength, stability, flexibility, myofascial release, improved posture and correcting imbalances in the body.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FOAM ROLLERS
There are different types of foam rollers and the different types have different purposes.
Foam rollers, these days, are almost like yoga mats, they come in a variety of materials, densities and even sizes.
Some are softer, others are harder and others again are super hard.
Which one should you choose?
Personally like i said in the video above i prefer the soft foam roller. I feel that helps me release tension in my muscles and i especially like the soft foam roller on my spine and neck. I have tried the hard foam roller on my spine and neck and i end up feeling tighter from it. It feels ok to use the black foam roller on my lower body, but when i used the dense foam roller before i didn’t feel as much improvement in the release as i do with the soft foam roller. My husband prefers the hard density foam roller all around and it helps him in the way the soft foam roller helps me.
So it’s a matter of trying the various densities out, but in general it is recommended to start off with a soft roller and then gradually increase the density as you get used to it, or maybe not increase the density (like in my case). You have to test it out and feel for yourself.
HOW OFTEN & WHEN SHOULD YOU USE A FOAM ROLLER?
With the [black] dense foam roller i would give it 24-48 hours before you do it again, especially if you feel a bit sore.
Personally i feel if you feel super stiff the next day and need days to recover then i think the density is too much or you pushed it too hard.
With the soft foam roller i can usually use it every day, but tend to do it every other day.
Apply moderate pressure. Go slowly. When you find a tight area breathe deeply and relax so you slowly feel the muscle releasing.
Never roll on a joint or a bone.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IT’S WORKING?
Remember the goal is to restore healthy muscles. This is not a pain tolerance test!
My friend and colleague Sue Hitzman of the MELT METHOD says she sees no point in ‘moving into pain to get out of pain’ and that is what i feel as well.
I say be ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ and if you feel a release afterwards then you know you’ve done something good.
If after using the foam roller your movement improves, you feel relaxed and better when you stretch or practice yoga then you know it’s working. If you feel no improvements in these areas after awhile then you have to investigate why.
I hope that this blog-post and video is helpful for you. Please let me know by either leaving a comment here or on YouTube in the comments box.
Anita Goa 🙂 🙂
**It is always recommended to consult with your physician or physical therapist for therapeutic/sharp pain and receive approval before starting self-myofascial release. For most people you will be cleared immediately and your doctor will encourage the practice.**
FOAM ROLLING VIDEO PRACTICES
The Foam Rolling Videos i’ve posted on my YouTube Channel so far. I’ll update the list as i make more of them:
1. RELEASE STIFF HIPS & THIGHS 15 minutes // I made this video initially for a New York client of mine so he could take it with him on his business travels. I chose to post it on YouTube and didn’t realise it would be so popular.
2. 20 MINUTE TOTAL BODY FOAM ROLLER ROUTINE // Another New York student asked me to make a total body foam rolling routine she could do after a workout. This is the result.
3. 20 MINUTE TIGHT NECK AND SHOULDER RELEASE WITH FOAM ROLLER // I get a lot of requests for more foam rolling routines, and i’m always asked to share routines to release neck and shoulders. This is amazing. You’ll feel like a new person after this.
4. 23 MINUTE FOAM ROLLING ROUTINE TO HEAL HAMSTRING INJURY // This routine was instrumental in healing my own hamstring injury. It can be used if you don’t have a hamstring injury as well.
5. 25 MINUTE FOAMROLLING ROUTINE FOR UPPER BODY // This one is amazing to release tightness and increase flexibility in your upper body. It’s also covers the neck. Really yummy.