Feb 27th, 2016
Category: Fitness advice
Athletes, fitness trainers and physical therapists have been using and promoting foam rolling for years to relax and “release” tight muscles. Foam rolling is a technique used to massage your muscles and soft tissues in order to promote myofascial release, the relaxing of the connective tissue layer that surrounds muscle tissue which can become painfully tight and restrictive.
When you are ready to try foam rolling, place the roller on the floor and position yourself on top of it focusing first on larger muscle groups and using your bodyweight roll slowly and steadily up and down on the roller paying special attention to areas that feel tight. As you roll across the roller and “self-massage” you will also find spots that are painful or tender, these are “trigger points” and can be “released by holding that position for 20-30 seconds until the pain fades.
Benefits of foam rolling include:
● Releasing painful tightness, tension and tension knots (adhesions).
● Promoting blood flow and circulation by reducing knots (adhesions) and tension in the fascia which may be restricting blood flow in the area.
● Elongating your muscles and aid in rehabilitation and recovery from injury as the release of tension allows your muscles to return to normal length and improving muscle function.
● Breaking down adhesions and deep scar tissue.
● Improving flexibility and range of motion as your muscles and connective tissue will be able to move more freely.
● Encouraging the flow of lymph back to the heart through movement pressure.
● Promotes the mind muscle connection, your awareness of the brain-muscle link.
How does foam rolling work? Below your skin, there is a connective tissue layer called superficial fascia. This superficial fascia is composed of adipose (fatty) tissue, nerves, blood and lymph vessels. This fascial layer and the muscles it covers form what is called the myofascial system. External stress caused by inflammation, traumatic injuries and even extended periods of inactivity can cause the muscles and their overlying fascia to "stick" to one another and form adhesions and trigger points, which cause movement restriction and pain.
The pressure of your weight on the foam roller activates sensory receptors called the Golgi Tendon Organ or GTO which signals the muscle to relax or “release” the tension and adhesions which result in a greater range of flexibility and relief of tension, tightness and pain.
Regular use of the foam roller and the resulting myofascial release will greatly loosen tight muscles that cause you pain and force your body out of balance and alignment. Using your roller a few minutes each day will release and relieve unnecessary tightness and provide the many benefits listed above. Happy rolling!