What is self myofascial release or, for many, foam rolling? Once an unknown to the general public, only seen in physical therapy or with professional athletes now they are all too familiar and if you're not incorporating them, you're definitely behind. Rollers are being sold everywhere and every gym typically has them readily available for members. More people, regardless of activity level, are understanding the importance to warm up and recovery methods.
The idea behind rolling is to self massage in order to release tension in muscles or trigger points. Trigger points are specific knots (adhesions) in muscles, typically they will refer pain when rolling those specific spots out. Releasing the trigger points helps reestablish proper movement, pain free movement, and overall enhance performance. Stretching alone isn't always enough to release the tension, that's where rolling comes into play.
Imagine a band with a knot in it. Stretching the band doesn't release the knot but it does create tension around the knotted portion. By simply stretching, the knot is unaltered. Rolling can help release these knots, allowing normal blood flow and function throughout the muscle. Applying pressure to specific hot spots on your body you can aid in the recovery of muscle quicker and return to normal function. Normal function meaning your muscles are healthy and ready to perform.
Rolling aint easy. While working the tight/sore muscles there will certainly be some discomfort similar to stretching or a massage from a masseuse. Initially it's not terribly comfortable but after it's over you should feel better. The goal of any corrective/recovery technique is to get you back to as if nothing was wrong.
Benefits of Rolling
1. Reduce Risk of Developing Adhesions: Adhesions being knots. The friction created by regular use of rollers can keep unnecessary build up of collagen from binding between layers of muscle tissue.
2. Reduce Tension: Reducing tension/tightness in muscles would increase overall range of motion. Knots cause the muscle to remain shortened which lowers and restricts overall mobility.
3. Reduce Soreness: Roll after exercise to promote the recovery process. inflammation occurs but also shows up with lack of movement post workout. Exercise induced muscle damage triggers the repair process. Going back to point 2, you don't want the collagen to halt and not be moved properly- leading to adhesions. Use rolling to keep the repair process fluid and to help reduce soreness.
4. Improve Circulation: Blood carries oxygen throughout the body making quality circulation crucial for overall health. Oxygen helps aid in recovery and keeping everything healthy. Rolling to break up tight areas where blood flow may be restricted is a safe precaution. Positive blood flow means no numb limbs, good cognitive ability and can even help a weak immune system.
5. Injury Prevention: Maybe the most important of the five. Treating injury is always easier when you avoid it in the first place. Rolling to stay loose and flexible can help prevent injury associate with tightness and overuse. No one wants to be hurt and have set backs,
Rolling should be part of your week, whether you choose to do it at home in front of the TV or take extra time at the gym. There's no doubt about the positive results you can get from consistent use. You won't be disappointed. Give them a try if you haven't and if you are currently using them, don't stop!
Here's a link to some rollers, they come in a variety of densities and shapes. Find one that's right for you and get started on helping your body feel and function a whole lot better.