Tag Archives: foam roller

Active Exercise Recovery

You train hard and recovery is an important part of that program.  Recovery is important for many reasons.  Recovery allows the body time to adapt to a workout program.  It allows time for the body to repair tissue that has been damaged working out as well as replenishing depleted energy stores.  It also allows the body the rest required to keep from over training and eventually burning out.

Active recovery really means a day off – from your program.  That means that you take a day to live your life actively or doing a workout that is less intense.  This could be walking the dog, enjoying a yoga class, going for a swim or bike ride, hiking, stretching, or even grabbing a foam roller for some much needed self-myofascial release (SMR).

Rest and relaxation refers to the down time away from training altogether, allowing the body the needed time to do those tissue repairs, strengthen, and replenish.


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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