If you’re familiar with the foam roller then you probably know the benefits it provides. For those of you who haven’t heard or tried it, then you’re in for a slew of goodness to your muscles and ligaments. You use a foam roller to ‘roll’ over your muscles, primarily the tight ones that can be bothersome or even as a preventative means from injury due to training and just daily living. Oftentimes you can use it to improve your range of motion in certain joints, or even speed up healing after an injury by breaking down the scar tissue and improving blood flow to the affected area(s).

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Using a foam roller (or lacrosse ball, med ball, or tiger tail to name just a few other prehab/rehab tools) is a tool used for self-myofascial release (SMR) which basically means self massage that helps break down scar tissue or adhesions in an area. By applying pressure to an adhesion or ‘tight spot’ (it should hurt if you’re on the right spot) for 5-10 seconds and breathing while staying relaxed, the muscle should ‘release’ or relax enough to loosen up and ease any pain you may be experiencing.  It’s also used to help reduce soreness and flush out toxins after a workout. A good rule of thumb is to roll over a muscle 4-5 times before moving onto the next area. When you feel discomfort (or akin to pressing on a bruise) then you’re on the right spot. If, however you start to get a tingling sensation or a sharp pain in the affected area, stop rolling. There could be some nerve impingement or damage that your body is warning you to avoid doing that.

There are primarily one of two times in your workout you’d want to use a foam roller, though I will sometimes incorporate it in my workout if I find a muscle(s) bothering me.

1.) Either before your workout as part of your warmup to loosen up the muscles and get blood flow into the areas about to be worked or

2.) At the end of your workout as part of the cool down. If you’re rolling after you’re workout and perform cardio, you’ll want to foam roll first to get the lactic acid circulating, then hit your cardio to flush out the toxins.

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 There are different types or densities of rollers and its important to know a couple of things. Always start with the lightest or softest roller to see how much pressure you can handle. Sometimes, the muscles are so tight that you won’t be able to apply much of your bodyweight on the roller. So its best to start with either the white or blue rollers. The black are the most dense and you should only use that if you find the lighter ones relatively painless while rolling. You can basically roll over any muscle but you may need to get creative with a few of them (ie use a wall). If you’re unsure of how to use it you can youtube some videos or you can contact me and I can do a tutorial with you. I’ve attached a video below of one way to use the roller.

Hope this helps for any of you who lift weights and want to stay pain-free (unless its the ‘good pain’ from a workout ;-)).  I consider foam rolling as an integral part of a training program and should be used often.

 

 

 

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