Have you seen runners using the foam roller and wonder what they are trying to achieve? Well, when you foam roll, you are helping your muscles a great deal.
Foam rolling stimulates a deep tissue massage to relieve the tension in your muscles and provide a release for deep tissues or the outer layer of the fascia. This helps to reduce the risk of injuries during and after a workout session.
You already know running can lead you to overwork some muscles. When this happens, you are aware because you can feel the imbalance and tightness. This is the simple function of foam rollers, to reset this tightness and relieve you of the symptoms so you can run and practice at your best.
Now Let’s Get a Little into the Science of it.
The scientific term for foam rolling is ‘myofascial release.’ The technique is more or less physiotherapy and works out the myofascial points of your muscles.
Myofascia- ‘myo’ meaning muscle + fascia is a word that represents the elastic connective tissue substance that wraps around muscle bundles. The fascia is what makes a segment of flesh separate from another in the same muscle group.
However, these connective tissue material can be stressed and cause weakness and imbalances in the affected area. This is what is referred to as myofascial adhesion and is what foam rolling helps to suppress.
The more frequently you use the foam roller, the fewer muscle adhesions you will develop, and you may be running pain-free for a long time.
The greatest effect from foam rolling is seen when you place your body over the roller directly and move rhythmically, applying pressure to the muscle in question and the elastic fascia around it. This process provides a quick response that affects muscle length so that the following happens:
- Reduce the tension that builds up in your muscles, allowing increased joint movement.
- Reduce inflammatory process and soreness after rigorous exercising and training. This helps your recovery time and reduces the risk of muscle injury.
- The risk of developing muscle adhesions as a result of fascial dysfunction is greatly reduced.
- You feel relaxed after using a foam roller. Unlike how you feel immediately after exercise, foam rolling helps you loosen up.
Related Articles: Check out the Injury Prevention category
Should Foam Rolling Hurt?
Foam rolling like a normal physical therapy intervention can come with a little discomfort, after which you feel much better.
Sometimes people ask, “Can I just stretch instead of using foam rolling?” Well, when you foam roll, you do more than just stretching. Stretching doesn’t work up to your fascia as foam rolling would; it only extends muscle length, which is good, but the risk of adhesions remains.
How Frequently Should You Foam Roll?
You should foam roll as frequently as you exercise. A daily dose of foam rolling may sound like a lot, but it is essential to go at this rate for efficient results. Also, at this rate, you’d feel less pain in the long run.
At the same time, you should be mindful of your rolling so that you do not overdo things. This is more about the duration of each roll than the frequency. What many people may want to do is to stay on a particular muscle set where they experience tightness for as long as they can.
If a body part hurts, do not spend more time grinding and pounding that area on the roller, 30 seconds should be your upper time limit as your aim is not to increase the soreness. If you apply the right amount of pressure at the right spot, about 20 seconds should be enough to trigger the anti-adhesion reaction. But spending more time will not make things better.
What are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?
- You have an increased range of motion as your flexibility is improved
- It is a good way to warm up and activate your muscles before a running session
- It increases blood flow and oxygen flow to target muscles so that your recovery time during exercise is improved.
- It breaks up scar tissue and bruises.
- It relieves pain and stiffness
- It gives you a high threshold of power to your muscles so that you find yourself basking in energy.