When we workout – whether it be running, lifting weights, gymnastics, yoga etc. we are essentially breaking down our muscles and then allowing them to repair themselves again (muscle growth). The connective tissue that surrounds every muscle in our bodies is called fascia, fascia are small fibres made of very densely packed collagen fibers – there isn’t a place on our bodies that doesn’t have fascia (amazing right!) After a while due to all of the constant breakdowns and repairs our muscles go through on a daily basis the fascia starts to thicken and shorten, it can actually shorten so much that it becomes cross linked or tangled I guess you could say and creates something called a trigger point – these trigger points are like little knots of fascia. If the trigger points go untreated they start to constrict the surrounding fascia, causing it to bind to muscles and nerves and making it unable to move and do its job. Long story short, they need to be released ASAP or they can start to cause us chronic pain, stiffness and decreased mobility, enter foam rolling.
So what exactly is foam rolling? Foam rolling, aka self myofascial release, aka SMR for short – is when we apply pressure to our muscles using a firm roller made of foam (duh) to remove scar-tissue and soft-tissue to free up the fascia and make it mobile again (yay)!
Other benefits of foam rolling are; increased circulation, increased blood flow, increased range of motion, increased agility, increased performance and it can even help reduce cellulite – OH BABY!
TOP 10 MUSCLES TO FOAM ROLL AND HOW:
- Upper Back – Lie down with your back on the floor, place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you and raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller -roll!
- Hamstring – Sit with legs extend over the roller so that it is positioning on the back of the upper legs with your hands at your side – roll!
- Calf – Sit with roller underneath your lower leg with the other leg placed on the floor supporting some of your weight, hands should be at your sides or just behind you – roll!
- IT Band – Lay on your side with bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee and top leg crossed in front of you – roll from hip to knee!
- Groin – Lay face down with one leg on top of the roller so it’s against your inner thigh, shift as much weight onto the foam roll as can be tolerated – roll!
- Lats – Lay on your back with the roller under your back and to one side, just behind your armpit, shift all of your eight onto your lats – roll!
- Quadricep – Lay face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands, and roller underneath one leg, shift all of your weight onto the leg that is on the roller – roll!
- Glutes – Sit with your butt on top of the roller, bend your knees and cross one leg so that the ankle is over the knee to add pressure.
- Lower Back – Sit with roller under your lower back, cross your arms in front of you and protract your shoulders, raise your hips off of the floor and lean back – roll!
- Chest – Lay face down with the roller at shoulder height and one arm extended and roller just below your armpit, press your chest into roller – roll!
A lot of the time we rush both our cool down and our stretches after our workouts which is honestly CRAZY and so so wrong- our cool down and stretching is just as important as our workouts themselves!! So I challenge all of you to take even just 5 minutes every day (preferably post workout) to stretch and foam roll your muscles, come on everyone has 5 minutes to do something! You’ll be amazed at how much your mobility increases and how much better you feel!