What’s Foam Rolling And How Does It Help?

Foam Rolling is a self-massaging technique which was earlier only used by athletes, coaches and therapists, and is now gaining popularity with people of all levels of fitness.  Also known as self-myofascial release, this is a technique that helps release muscle tightness also called trigger points. This self-massage is done using a foam roller, a lacrosse ball or our own hands. The basic idea is to apply pressure to specific points on the body to help them return to normal muscle function.

How Does Self-Myofascial Release Work?

Deep compression with the help of a foam roller is almost like tenderizing your muscles. For best performance, they should be soft and supple. But when they aren’t taken care of properly, they become inflexible and make movements painful. During self -myofascial release, kneading your muscles with a roller allows blood flow to the area to return to normal and restores healthy tissue. Foam rolling is like an extra boost as far as good muscle and tissue health goes.

What Are Trigger Points?

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Trigger points are the knots that form in the muscles. You can identify these knots in the muscles by the pain that they refer to the adjoining areas when pressure is applied on them. When rolling on tight muscles, you will experience discomfort or pain. But the pain shouldn’t be unbearable – it should just seem uncomfortable. And once you’re through, it should feel better.

Why Do Muscles Become Tight?

Muscles become tight depending on a lot of things. The contributing factors are many, like posture, training, movement patterns and lifestyle. Usually our bodies are able to repair and compensate for all the damage that we cause, but sometimes the damage we cause exceeds the body’s ability to fix itself. And that’s when you need help from a professional or recovery techniques like foam rolling etc.

Why Foam Rolling?

The process of self-myofascial release provides you the ability to be in complete charge of your muscles’ healing and recovery by

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applying differing pressure in different locations, since you will know the precise areas that hurt and need help. Using foam rolling, you are able to release the knots or the trigger points and are able to regain proper movement patters and optimal performance.

Stretching alone isn’t able to release muscle tension and tightness, which is why foam rolling is gaining increasing popularity. To better understand this, imagine a thick cord with a knot tied onto it. Imagine pulling the cord which will create tension and help stretch the cord, but the knot will remain unaffected. It’s these knots in the muscles that are targeted in foam rolling. Foam rolling helps us in breaking up these knots in the muscles, and restore normal blood flow to the area, thereby enhancing muscle function.

How Do I Go About Foam Rolling?

There isn’t a specific time or place that you need to do foam rolling in. You can do it at your convenience anytime and anywhere. It

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is especially useful as a warming up and cooling down tool during your workout. However, it is better to consult your physician or physiotherapist and get their approval before starting self-myofascial release. Most doctors encourage this practice.

Knots in the muscles or the trigger points can be found through self-exploration. Keep the knotty muscle group on top of the foam roller applying gentle pressure and slowly rolling along the troubled area. If a particular spot feels tight or painful, pause over it for 20-30 seconds, until the tenderness subsides. Also, if an area is too painful for direct pressure, apply pressure on the adjoining areas and gradually work the entire area. The idea is to loosen the knots, do not make it a pain tolerance test.

Another thing to remember is, to never roll a joint or a bone. Also, foam rolling the lower back should be avoided. These areas need tennis or lacrosse balls to be loosened. And if you have issues with your neck, it helps to seek help from a medical professional as these are rather sensitive areas and

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need advanced therapy.

What To Expect After Foam Rolling?

After foam rolling, your body may feel sore the next morning. You will feel that your muscles have been worked on, but excessive soreness isn’t normal. That may be a cue for you to go easy on the foam rolling. Just drink lots of water, sleep well and eat healthy. Healthy food will help fuel your muscles and the water will help flush out the system. Remember to give the muscles that you’ve worked on at least a day or two before focusing on them again.