Foam rolling is a popular form of self-myofascial (myomuscle, fascia-soft connecting tissue) release, using a tool (foam roller, ball). The initial benefits are short term (10 minutes). With use of two weeks or greater, the benefits will be longer term. Just like working on improving one’s fitness, when you do the activity twice a week you can maintain your level. When you do the activity three times a week you will see gains, this guideline also applies to foam rolling. When done effectively foam rolling can replace post workout stretching.
- Break up scar tissue
- Improve your range of motion (ROM)
- Save money on massages
- Improve circulation remove toxins
- Improve your performance and speed results
- Speed your recovery
- Increase your gains
Fascia is a tensional, continuous fibrillar network within the body, extending from the surface of the skin to the nucleus of the cell. This global network is mobile, adaptable, fractal, and irregular; it constitutes the basic structural architecture of the human body ~ Dr. Guimberteau
When doing self-myofascial release, the foam roller or a ball, the choice of tool should be firm enough it doesn’t cave into itself, and a firmness you can tolerate. There are many ranges of firmness in the tools, you need to decide what is best for you. The foam rollers and balls come in a variety of lengths as well, again this is personal and can depend on the space you have, there are also travel size rollers available.
When sourcing a ball for myofascial release, it can be as simple as a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, golf ball or a specifically designed for the job, some come with spikes. Having a variety of these tools of varying densities on hand is key. If you were to purchase a specific set of balls, I recommend ones that come in pairs, usually in a small bag, allowing for more varied use.
3 Common Mistakes:
- Rolling too quickly – Roll slowly, listening to your muscle and connective tissue. Notice and pay attention to the sensations in them.
- Not holding at tense areas – STOP and hold at those painful (trigger) points.
- Not rolling long enough – You need to roll until you have decreased the pain or discomfort, no more than :30 per muscle group (area: upper leg, thoracic, gluteal)
Foam rolling is ideal for post workout recovery, it can be used in place of traditional stretching. Like stretching be sure to spend enough time on each area, but not too much time, as noted above no more than :30 on each muscle group. If you have an area where pain lingers more than 24 hours after workout and rolling or restricts your daily movement you need to seek a medical professional’s opinion.