Foam rolling can be a great way to help enhance recovery, promote circulation, or boost your warm up routine. By the sounds of it, foam rolling should be a pleasurable activity although many people would disagree.
Can foam rolling help me?
You have probably heard about foam rolling before; chances are you probably have roller or two in your home right now. Foam rolling can be a great way to help enhance recovery, promote circulation, or boost your warm up routine. By the sounds of it, foam rolling should be a pleasurable activity although many people would disagree.
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a simple self-manual therapy technique often used to improve flexibility, recovery, and athletic performance.
What can’t foam rolling do?
Foam rolling advocates have claimed for years that rolling on a piece of foam can lengthen muscles, release trigger points, and even remodel scar tissue. Unfortunately much more research is needed to clarify the effects of foam rolling. A muscle’s length is dictated by where it originates and inserts into your bones and using a foam roller will not change that; so, muscles can’t get “longer” with foam rolling. Trigger points are spots with in your tissues that don’t move as they should and often cause pain and apprehension. Again, foam rolling by itself cannot change the structure of other tissues; so consequently, it cannot truly release trigger points or remodel scar tissue.
If it doesn’t change our tissues, how come we still do it?
Well, because it feels good (depending on the person). Foam rolling can help relax your nervous system which in turn can have a short term effect that makes it feel like your muscles are longer or that your trigger points have disappeared. Many use a foam roller as a way to hack their nervous systems and overcome Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS (short term muscle pain that can inhibit your ability to move well). By using a foam roller you may be able to overcome your body’s nervous system and the DOMS effect, getting you back to training faster, than without it.
Foam rolling can also help with circulation both by circulating fluid through tissues but also simply by promoting more movement. Blood and other fluids need the muscle contractions to help push blood and lymphatic through their respective vessels, without movement these fluids will start to pool in our legs and arms causing swelling among other issues.
Why does it hurt so much?
The answer many trainers will give you is “Because, that’s just how it works!” … More than likely you are rolling too aggressively. Many trainers and trainees still subscribe to the “No pain, no gain” mantras popularized by bodybuilders years ago; and while foam rolling can be uncomfortable, it shouldn’t feel like torture!
Some foam rolling concepts for you to try:
|FLUSHING| Roll continuously and gently without stopping, lengthwise along a muscle
Paul Bradshaw is a Kinesiologist at Sparkling Hill Resort. He graduated from the University of British Columbia Vancouver in 2010 with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics. He is the lead Whole Body Cryotherapy practitioner and also specializes in injury rehabilitation and prevention, and healthy weight loss. Paul is also a certified Kinesio Tape practitioner.
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