Foam rolling is a must do each and every day for any athlete who’s looking to recover from a workout as quickly, efficiently and fully as possible. In addition to the compression socks covered in the previous Recovery 101 post, foam rolling can help your body bounce back from a tough session in many ways.
Foam rolling is a type of self myofascial release or self massage. It works by breaking up adhesions created in the muscles during periods of hard work. These adhesions form between muscle fibers to cause stiffness and soreness while simultaneously preventing blood, oxygen and other important nutrients from reaching the very muscles they’re needed to help repair. Think of them like the hooks on Velcro. When they’re smushed together nothing can move very easily. Break them apart and everything slides around much better.
Foam rolling before a workout will help get tissues loose, improve circulation and get muscles ready to work by increasing the range of motion around a joint. With the ability to foam roll any muscle group from your feet to your shoulders, it’s a warm-up that works for every workout you ever do. After a workout, foam rolling can help prevent soreness and stiffness by limiting the formation of adhesions. Muscle that’s repairing itself starts right away and working over it with a roller can help that new muscle lay down the right way.
No matter when you’re rocking out with the foam roller, make sure you keep it slow and work the entire length of the tissue group. Start with a soft roller and as you get used to the activity, step up to firmer and differently shaped rollers. One with grooves or bumps will reach deeper into muscles while ball sized rollers can fit into small pockets at the feet, hips and shoulders.
Check out this video to learn a few valuable foam rolling techniques and be sure to include them after each and every workout.