Let’s Get Rolling

Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMFR). Fascia is a soft connective tissue that surrounds all muscles and organs in your body. A tight fascia can cause pain, muscle tension, and decreased flexibility. SMFR can help to increase muscle length, improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage as well as increase oxygen circulation. It can also help to break up painful adhesions and scar tissue.

Here’s the proper way to foam roll. Roll slowly along the entire length of the muscle applying a moderate pressure with your body weight. When you find sensitive or painful areas, hold the pressure for about 30 seconds or until the pain diminishes. Make sure you relax and breathe deeply to help get oxygen to these trigger points and help release the tension. If direct pressure is too painful, shift your weight to apply pressure to the surrounding areas and slowly work your way up to direct pressure. Try and make your goal to roll the length of your muscle 10 times without any pain.

Keep in mind foam rolling should be uncomfortable, but not extremely painful. When you stop, the discomfort should go away and you should feel better. The more often you foam roll, the less painful it will be.

People foam roll for different reasons and this affects the time that it should be done. Foam rolling before your workout allows your muscles to release and function at an optimal length for the duration your exercise session, thereby optimizing your workout. Foam rolling after your workout combined with traditional stretching will help to release your tight muscles, remove waste from the muscles, and will decrease post-workout soreness.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Never roll across a joint or along your low back.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Foam roll daily and combine with traditional stretching for best results.
  • Frequently overlooked areas: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, thoracic spine, lats.
  • Foam rollers come in different densities. Typically, white ones are softer than blue and black ones and may be a good starting point for those new to foam rolling.
  • Switch it up (and get a little bit more spot specific) by rolling on tennis balls or even lacrosse balls.

Colleen Ryan BSc, CAT(C)
South Health Campus Wellness Coach

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