Soreness, it’s a part of life, especially when you’re active in the gym for general fitness and even more so for those that are athletes.
These days, it’s almost impossible to walk into any gym and not see someone laying on the floor using a foam roller anymore. Over the last several years, foam rolling has quickly become a standard part of many people’s fitness routines.
So the question is – what does foam rolling actually do?
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique.
All of your muscles are covered by a thin, fibrous layer of fascia tissue, which is primarily made of collagen. One of the main purposes of this fascia tissue is to help your muscles move smoothly by minimizing friction between muscle fibers.
This fascia tissue however can develop trigger points or “knots” in it for many reasons, including poor postural habits from sitting for prolonged periods of time, previous injury to a muscle and stressing your muscles through exercise.
When this happens it can restrict your joints (knees, hips, shoulders, ankle, and elbows) ability to move through a full range of motion properly. When a joint cannot move properly you will often experience pain in that joint.
By using various self-myofascial release techniques, such as foam rolling, you can help eliminate these trigger points that develop in your fascia tissue over time.
When you “release” these trigger points you are freeing up your joints to move better or without any restrictions. This a lot of times will almost immediately reduce or eliminate pain in a joint that was previously restricted by a trigger point in your fascia.
When Should You Be Foam Rolling?
The simple answer to this question is whenever you can and whenever you feel your body needs it most. Incorporating foam rolling into your workout sessions directly before and after exercise has its benefits.
Foam rolling before exercise can help loosen stiff joints by releasing the trigger points within your fascia tissue. This gives your muscles more elasticity allowing you to move better during exercise.
After personally coaching and watching thousands of personal training sessions with clients, there is no doubt that the better your joints move, the better you will perform during any given workout. As well, the better your joints move, the less likely you are to suffer a joint injury.
Foam rolling can also be performed post-workout to enhance or speed-up the rate at which your muscles recover from a workout. It does this by helping increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles that you have just worked.
Increasing blood flow and oxygen to a muscle is well known to help muscles recover faster after a strenuous workout.
Participating in a regular foam rolling routine should be a top priority for any who is concerned with reducing joint pain, increasing flexibility/mobility and improving posture.
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Originally written by Jeremy Housel and published on November 1, 2019 the Jeremy’s Training Fitness blog.
Revised for Mighty Grip.