The Poor Man’s Massage
Ahhh foam rolling…The great alternative to a massage…But seriously!
If you don’t own a foam roller, I highly suggest ordering one and incorporating it into your daily routine. I got mine off Amazon and it’s a great investment, I promise you.
Foam rolling is the most common practice for Self-Myofacial Release (SMR), which gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissues.
What is fascia and what are the benefits?
Fascia is a collection of connective fibrous bands that surround your muscles and other internal organs. By using a foam roller, it will help stretch out your muscles and tendons but also really gets into those hard to reach areas, breaking down adhesions, knots and scar tissue. It’s a great tool to be used for injury prevention, recovery, blood circulation, flexibility and breaking up trigger points.
How it’s Done
By using your own body weight on the foam roller and focusing on tender areas, it will help break up knots within the muscle and help to release unwanted muscular tension. Once a tender spot is found it’s best to hold the pressure on the spot for about 30 seconds. It’s important to take your time rolling and not move too fast. You want to give your brain enough time to signal to your muscles to relax. I like to focus on my breathing and really try to let go and have my muscles relax while foam rolling. Also, be sure to avoid rolling directly on joints or bones.
But it hurts!
Yes, the same reason why people get deep tissue massages is because it hurts. But it’s a good kind of hurt where you know there will be a greater benefit. Our body naturally wants to be healthy and strong, but because of training, nutrition, stress, flexibility, posture, and other lifestyle factors, sometimes we need to give our body a little extra help. By foaming rolling, we can control our healing and recovery process by applying pressure to these “trigger point” locations. By releasing these trigger points we help to re-establish better range of motion, and work toward enhancing our bodies performance. The deep compression of SMR will allow normal blood flow to return and aid in the recovery of healthy tissue.
Pre or Post Workout?
If you have the time, it’s beneficial to foam roll both before and after a workout. Pre-workout foam rolling helps to increase blood flood and help release knots in soft tissue, which will enhance performance. Post-workout foam rolling helps assist in recovery by aiding circulation and returning tissue to a relaxed state. If you only have time for one, however, I would definitely recommend foam rolling BEFORE your workout.
Even when I am not on “leg day,” I still foam roll them out everyday. I do a lot of driving for work, so my IT band is always tight. I usually start at my calves, and work my way to my IT band, quads, hamstrings, inner thighs and then finish with glutes.
Foam rolling is a great (and cheaper) alternative to a massage therapist. Try it out if you haven’t before. Trust me, your body will thank you!
*From top left clockwise I am hitting my quads, IT band, hamstrings and glutes.