The Benefits of Foam Rolling
If you train on a regular basis and often tend to be stiff and sore after a little sport session, I may have the solution for you: the foam roller.
You may have caught a glimpse of it at the gym, but you didn’t know what it was. You may even have seen people using it, and wondered about its effectiveness and whether or not it would be useful to you?
What is it, exactly?
The foam roller is ultimately a self-massing device that aims at making muscle relaxation easier. It is said that foam rolling is the equivalent of a deep-tissue massage. In short, you just need to roll the specific area you want on the foam roller, and hold the position when you find comfort spots.
The foam roller is a little bit like Ritalin for the muscles. Some muscles tend to be hyperactive (hypertonic). These muscles react to the slightest stretch by preventing full extension. If your muscle cannot stretch to its full range of motion, you are less flexible than your full potential. Applying and repeating a sustained pressure with the roller eventually inhibits the stimulation of the muscle receptors, effectively making it less prone to useless tensing, and eliminating possible imbalances with its antagonist (opposed muscle).
Before, or after training?
First, it can be used every day, training or not. If you want to know if it is best to use it before or after training, I have to answer that in an ideal world, we would do both. However, if you have limited time, use it at the same time you perform your static stretching, that is, AFTER your session.
Useful to trigger a slight increase in blood circulation and muscle relaxation in order to ensure that you are in the best predisposition to complete your training session. For this purpose, use the foam roller without pausing for extended periods of time on a specific area.
Very useful, as it allows you to massage sore muscles and promotes recovery. Also, if you take the time to find your pressure points, it’s a great relaxation tool for the rest of the day. Just like you do when stretching, you can hold the same position for 30 seconds or more in order to promote muscle relaxation.
I don’t really believe in miracle recipes, but I have to admit this roller has a lot of potential… providing, of course, that you use it on a regular basis!
For a few examples, here is a Youtube video suggesting seven exercises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkqu_WQrfKg
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
By Xavier Jutras