I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Yesterday morning, at around 8:45am I began an eight mile run. Everything was going great, the weather was perfect, I was testing out a new route, and my lungs and legs were feeling great, well that is until mile 6. Around mile 6, my hips decided to celebrate their 85th birthday right in the middle of my run. My IT-band tightened up, my hips got stiff, and I kept hearing a strange popping noise (never a good sign)! I finished the run, and couldn't wait to spend some quality time with my foam roller! I truly believe my little blue foam roller is one of my best friends! I use it on my neck when I have a headache, on my quadriceps when I get a little crazy in my sculpting classes, and on my IT-band when my hips decide to act like they're ancient! Have you ever tried foam rolling?
Benefits of Foam Rolling:
- Self-myofascial release (similar benefits to a deep tissue message)
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases muscle tension and soreness
- Helps prevent injury
- Improves performance
- Speeds recovery
- Fix postural problems
So how does it work?
Foam rolling essentially is a way to experience myofascial release without going to a masseuse. It is not quite as effective as getting a deep tissue message, but you can do it anytime, anywhere! Foam rolling works via the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) in the muscle tendon area. When you apply pressure/tension to the point where the muscle believes it is at risk of injury, the GTO responds by relaxing the muscle. This response is called autogenic inhibition. By stimulating the GTO, we are able to cause relaxation of the muscle and consequently the fascia surrounding it. This allows us the achieve the stretch and range of motion we are after.
Tips For Foam Rolling:
- Concentrate on sore or tight areas of the body
- Be sure to roll the full length of the muscle
- Make sure your muscles are warm before you begin your rolling session.
- Stop on sore spots (trigger points) until the pain begins to fade, then return to rolling the full length of the muscle.
- Always go slowly, it might hurt more, but it is well worth it!
- Avoid rolling over bony areas and/or joints.
- Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
- Roll the injured area (ex: my it-band) 2-3 times a day. For prevention of injuries 2-3 times a week is recommended.
Glutes & Hamstrings: Begin by sitting on the roller with the soft, meaty part of your glutes directly on top of the roller. Then slowly roll back and forth and slightly side to side to release any tight sports in the muscle. Slowly roll down your leg toward your knee and work the hamstrings in the same way. (picture above). Change your position from side to side to work the entire muscle. Slowly roll from the buttock down to the knee pausing on any tight or sore spots. You can increase the pressure by crossing one leg over the other.
Pictures taken from: about.com
If you don't have a foam roller at home, you might check at your local gym. Many fitness facilities have foam rollers near the stretching area, or they might even keep them behind the desk. If you have never tried foam rolling, I hope you will give it a try. Foam rolling can truly benefit everyone, not just runners!
Food for thought:
Have you ever tried foam rolling?
If so, what did you think?
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