Some call it masochistic, I call it bliss. Especially if you practice and learn how to do it properly! As an avid foam roller, I have experienced the benefits for both athletics and overall wellness, and highly recommend using it for recovery and range of motion benefits.
Whether you choose a ball, a smooth or ribbed roller, or therapeutic massage, I consider a variety of myofascial release techniques to be essential to longevity. When I say “foam rolling” I really refer to this as a category for myofasical release techniques. Excuse for a massage? Maybe…
Try a 4 week challenge of daily foam rolling to witness the cumulative effect when consistently integrated.
Perform Better, a site for self-myofasical release techniques cites the reason why maintaining and increasing range of motion is linked to longevity:
“For example, muscle tightness restricts the range of motion that a joint may be moved. Because of muscle restriction (tightness, soft tissue adhesions, and neural-hyperactivity), joint motion is altered, thus changing normal neural feedback to the CNS (central nervous system). Ultimately, neuromuscular efficiency is compromised, which leads to poor movement patterns, inducing premature fatigue and causing injury”
With pre-mature fatigue and increased rates of injury we accelerate our nutrient needs (in increasing the demands for cellular regeneration). We compromise additional body systems (like digestion and adrenal function) when we continue to “burn on empty” in a fatigued state. Demand exceeds supply. When we aren’t proactive about maintaining good nutrition, circulation, and range of motion, we AGE FASTER!
When conducted effectively, foam rolling or other myofascial release techniques can stimulate Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s), which are the connection between tendons and muscle tissue:
GTO’s are sensitive to changes in tension, or rates of tension change. This means when you roll or apply pressure in a rhythmic motion through a modality like foam rolling or massage, you trigger a relaxation impulse.
To establish a proactive habit around muscular relaxation, for the benefit of supporting recovery from athletics, injury prevention, maintaining alignment and improving range of motion, challenge yourself to 4 weeks of daily foam rolling or massage. It doesn’t take much time, and it’s highly portable.
Start with 1-2 minutes of slow, yet dynamic motion across a muscle of focus, which would include 30-45 second intervals of rest (static pressure) on areas of pain or heightened sensitivity. Breath into the site of pain, allow your muscles to slowly melt into the roller, and release tension. If you choose 3-5 muscle groups to focus on each time, look to spend on average 5 -10 minutes foam rolling daily. Go for more if you can! I’ll sometimes pause on an area of tension or pain for up to 5 minutes, and foam roll through entire movies!
Here’s a great quick reference guide from the Tone it Up Girls:
This month, I’m foam rolling daily as part of my year long Hearty Heart series of pro-longevity challenges. I also have several races towards the end of this month, and am using foam rolling as part of my pre and post run warm up & cool down. I’ve also integrated Trigger Point, via the folks at Twist Conditioning where I’ve been getting some performance coaching lately.
My tool-kit recommendations:
Trigger Point for Runners Kit
Rumble Roller from Fitter First
Spiked balls from Fitter First