Foam Rolling – Relieves Pain & Makes Muscles Stronger

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If you’ve ever had a tight hamstring or IT band, you’re well -acquainted with one of the least enjoyable aspects of exercise: post exercise muscle tightness.

 

Although stretching often receives the glory for reducing muscle tightness, a newsung hero- Foam Rolling-has a very important place in your pre or post workout routine.

 

So What Is Foam Rolling?

 

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling-rolling over a hard foam cylinder- breaks down muscle adhesions. Adhesions are knots of muscle tissue that form during vigorous exercise, or when your body is adapting to new workout or increased exercise intensity.

 

When a muscle becomes tight or knotted, range of motion is limited, causing discomfort or pain. Chronic tightness can even lead to injury as we begin to alter our way of movement to compensate for the tight or knotted area.

 

Foam Rolling can help alleviate post-exercising tightness and expedite recovery, priming you for your next workout and improving the quality of your exercise regimen.

 

How Foam Rolling Works

 

Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling works by applying bodyweight over the top of the roller. As your move the taut muscle over the surface of the roller, the muscle is manipulated to mimic the surface of the roller rather than its previous contracted position, thus lengthening and relaxing the muscle.

 

How Does Foam Rolling  Feel?

 

Many people who are new to foam rolling find the experience uncomfortable. If you’ve never used a foam roller before, the first time can cause discomfort as your overly taut muscles are  worked over the surface of the hard roller.

 

The rolling process should feel similar to a deep-tissue massage. Although tightness and slight to moderate discomfort is normal when rolling over a tight knot or muscle, excruciating pain (9 on a 1-10 scale) is likely a sign of serious injury to a muscle, tendon, joint, or ligament: do not attempt to roll over the area in an attempt to “loosen” it, as this may exacerbate the injury. Stop rolling and see a doctor or physical therapist to determine the best course of action.

 

Foam Rolling – Before Or After?

 

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is best performed post exercise, but can also be performed pre-workout.

 

A quick 2-3 minutes spent rolling over tight hamstrings, glutes, and quads can be especially beneficial the day after a hard workout, or if you spend a lot of time sitting down thanks to a desk job or busy commute.

 

Hip flexors and glutes often become tight or lose full range of motion when you’re seated for prolonged periods, which can place undue stress on the hips and lower back, contributing to sciatica.

 

Foam Rolling – How long?

 

Typically, you’ll know how much Foam Rolling is right for you given your body’s response: when rolling over a hard knot or tight IT band, it may take 2-3 minutes working over the specific area before you feel relief.

 

It’s best, however, to foam roll over all muscle groups on both the left and right-hand side, regardless of any specific areas of tightness. Repeatedly neglecting certain areas (for example, rolling your quads but skipping your hamstrings) can lead to imbalances in range of motion or tightness that causes even more pain or discomfort.

 

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