It’s no secret that foam rolling has become a major part of many peoples’ fitness routines. If you’ve seen people rolling around on cylindrical pieces of foam (or even spiky balls) after a session and you’re keen to give it a try, it’s great to know how to do it properly to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits (and not wasting your time).
As you may have been able to tell by the grimaces on peoples’ faces, foam rolling can be painful when you first start. However, with regular practice, it can increase your capacity for optimum performance, so that you can recover faster and perform better in your sessions!
Foam rolling is scientifically called ‘self-myofascial release’. It’s designed to smooth out the knots in your muscles (whether they’re in your back, shoulders, legs, glutes or calves), and can be compared to the practice of self-massage.
Fascia are the connective tissues that wrap and bond your muscles together. The scientific terms for these painful ‘knots’ that we often get in our muscles are ‘trigger points’ or ‘myofascial adhesions’.They develop through stress, training, muscle overuse or underuse, movement imbalances or pre-existing injuries.
Let’s do an analogy; if you take a rubber band and tie a knot in the centre, the elastic around the knot will stretch, however the actual knot itself will stay still. This can result in a blockage when it comes to the elongation and full usage of our muscles. The area around the knot will still be in full use, however the knotted area won’t reap the same benefits from your training. This can result in an increased potential for injury, as your muscles aren’t being worked evenly.
Foam rolling carries a number of benefits when included as part of a regular routine.