You will probably have noticed: foam rolls. More and more athletes are using this new way of so-called ‘self-massage’. But what is it actually and what is it good for? And when do you use it? In this blog I will answer all these questions.
What is it?
This is certainly recognizable: after a good sports session your muscles feel a bit stiff and the next day you suffer from muscle pain. The stairs have become a big task and every step you take is getting harder. The foam roller is currently your biggest friend in speeding up recovery.
Self-myofascial release is the expensive term for self-massage to massage knots and tension from the muscles. Now you think: massage? How lovely! It is, but only after you have used the foam roller. It can be painful, but it speeds up recovery and returns the muscle to normal function! The normal function of the muscle means that the muscle is flexible, fit and mobile.
A foam roller is made of hard foam and often has the shape of a cylinder. There are rollers with a flat profile, a robust profile or even with studs. For the first few times, use a flat profile roller. It can be painful, so keep the sessions short.
How does it work?
After a sports session, the muscles and connective tissue can become stuck due to overstimulation. The foam roller exerts pressure on a specific muscle or muscle group in combination with your own body weight. This makes the tissue around the muscles smoother and more mobile. The foam rolling improves the circulation and dissolves your so-called ‘trigger points’. Trigger points are a kind of knots in the muscle fibers. These knots feel uncomfortable and can cause pain.
How do you use it?
While rolling, try to relax the muscles as much as possible and roll slowly. Do you find yourself getting into a sore spot? Then you have found a trigger point! Start rolling around the area and slowly work your way to the center of the pain. Slowly increase the pressure, as rolling directly on a sore spot can make the pain worse. Roll a spot for about 30 seconds. Sometimes it also helps to hold the roller briefly on the sore spot.
But watch out! Never use the foam roller on joints or bones and never roll the lower back. There are certain vertebrae in your back that can be damaged and therefore cause complaints.
So keep rolling on soft tissues like the upper legs (front, back and side), calves and glutes. The upper back is okay, but only on the sides. Roll vertically instead of horizontally. And also drink enough water after a session to dispose of the released waste.
Why foam rolls?
Now that you know what it is, how it works and how you use it, you are probably also curious about the benefits. We have listed them here for you:
1. Foam rolling relieves muscle pain and reduces inflammation
2. You are in control, so determine the boundary yourself
3. It initiates a good blood circulation and accelerates the recovery of the muscle tissue
4. You will get better quality muscles
5. The foam rolling provides better mobility, flexibility and ultimately a better posture
6. The chance of injuries is reduced, so you can see and notice an improvement in sports performance
7. Foam rolling restores muscle recovery
8. Foam rolling dissolves trigger points
When to foam roll?
By foam rolling as a warm up you increase flexibility. Then focus on the muscles that you will use the most during exercise. In this way, the blood circulation in the muscles is activated, making exercises or training easier.
During the training
If you notice that your muscles feel tense during exercise, you can roll during rest. With running, this gets a bit tricky. Instead of rolling, you could stretch the muscles for a while.
After you have trained, it is important to use the roller. This reduces the risk of muscle pain and accelerates the recovery process. So it reduces muscle pain, but it may not be completely gone. If you’ve been running, you could take a roll half an hour to an hour after the workout.
So; now you know all the ins and outs of foam rolls. Are you also going to use this rolling wonder? Follow @fitgirlcode and stay up to date with all the trends around sports!