May 15, 2017( Comments: 0 )

What’s all the fuss about foam rolling?

We all know stretching is key for recovery, so you might pull a heel to your butt and try to touch your toes for a second before hitting the showers, or maybe you do a yoga class a couple of times a week. But sometimes simply stretching doesn’t quite cut it. This is where foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, can come in handy.

What is fascia? Research in fascia is still very much a developing area of biology and exercise science. We know that Fascia is a webbing of connective tissue that covers all of our muscles, organs bones, and practically every part of our body, connecting it all together and distributing force around our body. Eg. When we squat the fascia under the foot spreads and as we come up it recoils to absorb the ground reaction force and transmit it through the legs.

Why foam rolling helps:

Lack of movement (such as when we sit down at a desk all day) can cause our body to lay down extra layers of fascia which prevent the effective redistribution of force leaving us feeling tight or in pain. Foam rolling is a helpful tool to prevent this from occurring. By physically manipulating our fascia, forcing it to move and glide against other layers with a foam roller we can ‘floss’ out these restrictive connections and prevent restrictions from really setting in.

Foam rolling is also useful where we have muscle imbalances or have been doing repetitive movements that focus on one muscle group (weight lifting). Muscles which are repetitively getting signals to contract, such as when a muscle is trying to compensate from a weaker neighbouring muscle, will develop myofascial trigger points. These make it painful to move or touch and if we don’t release these our body will forge a new path to distribute the forces resulting in an abnormal muscle activation patterns and poor exercise form. Foam rolling can help these trigger points and tightness to release.

How to foam roll:

It is important to feel relaxed whilst we are foam rolling, if we are in too much pain from rolling too aggressively, our nervous system will only tell us to tighten up more.
The easiest effective protocol to foam rolling is if we roll the top half and bottom half of each muscle that needs release 4 times vertically and 4 times horizontally. A smooth roller is better for large area rolling with the ‘nobbly’ rollers or tennis balls are better for trigger points.

If you find a painful trigger point, lightly drag the skin slowly around the area on the roller. Once you have done that then you can go into a specific trigger point. Find the area of tension hold it there and breathe deeply and it should reduce or release within a 60-90 second timeframe. You may have a whole area full or trigger points. Have time to complete the area as if you only deal with one in an area the rest may contract more to ‘take up the slack’.

If you would still like more info on foam rolling and fascia have a chat to me next time you’re in the gym.


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