The majority of the population at what time or another has looked into or considered being active. Gym membership sales generally skyrocket post New Year’s Eve as people look to make their health a prime focus in a new year. Home gyms, the latest get fit DVD’s and newest fitness trend are often being advertised in print, television and online forums. In all of this, however, there is often very little mention of the recovery process. It is not until someone really starts to educate themselves or connects with a coach or trainer of some sort or worse yet succumbs to an injury that recovery and ways to safely train become a focus. I blame lack of knowledge to be the reason why the handy dandy foam roller lies lonely, collecting dust bunnies, in the corner of your local gym or even basement. Allow me than, to shed some light on what this very basic, geometric shape can do for you if used properly.
Self- myofascial release OR more commonly known as “foam rolling” is a self-guided massage that helps to release muscle tightness or trigger points, also known as knots, that cause pain that can sometimes shoot to other parts of the body if pressure is put on the trigger point. The feeling one gets from foam rolling is similar to a deep tissue massage. It is not meant to be gentle because it must dig deep into tight muscles in order to release tension and have them return to their flexible, elastic, proper functioning while increasing blood flow. Jeff Kuhland described the foam rolling process as tenderizing your own muscles, a quite amusing but accurate comparison.
Brynne Elliott from Muscle and Fitness describes a few areas that should be focused on first when we begin foam rolling. Firstly, the calves! I know from experience that I never really knew how tight my calves were until I ran a foam roller under them. WOW the pain. The calf muscle deals with a lot and never really gets any loving. Unless you are a competitive athlete who is concerned with building their calves or requires strong calves for a sport, let’s be honest, they aren’t a main focus in people’s lives. Give them a break, they help you get around every day and that can be exhausting. Secondly, the quadriceps. A major muscle group that is connected to the hips and if not taken care of can cause pain in the lower back as well. We take for granted the ability to do basic things, like walk, until these basic functions are compromised. Lastly, Brynne names the upper back. This makes perfect sense! Daily stresses have a way of building up in this area and often leads to headaches and bad posture. Loosening up these muscles relaxes the face muscles, allows shoulders to drop and could be a solution for someone who is frequently plagued by headaches.
On a Roll One muscle not on Brynne’s list that I think is extremely important because when injured it is PAINFUL and definitely restricts the ability to walk, this would be the IT band, right below the hip area. You want to take care of this…TRUST ME!
Foam rolling is great to do before any injury occurs. Incorporating it into a daily regimen is ideal to prevent muscle tightness and to ensure maximal muscle use. The Treadmill Factory carries a number of different types and sizes of foam rollers to suit the specific person that walks into the store! The staff are extremely helpful and will direct you to the one that works best for you. If you would like more information or how to’s when it comes to using your new foam roller “The Great Foam Roller Handbook” is a must for your at home library and can be found at The Treadmill Factory as well.
Until next time…get loose! 😀