The foam roller – how it works and why it’s such a great tool!

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique that can relieve tension in the body. Foam rolling has become a familiar everyday practice for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Self-myofascial release is a term used for self-massage to release muscle tightness. If you work out regularly, have tight muscles, suffer from injuries, have muscular imbalances, feel stressed or experience tension in your body, then foam rolling will benefit you.

What is fascia?

Fascia is the connective tissue layer that wraps and divides every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs, running uninterrupted from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Every bit of you is encased in it. Fascia offers protection and you are kept in your human shape by fascia. The white, glistening fibers you see when you pull a piece of meat apart or when you pull chicken skin away is fascia.

What are the benefits of foam rolling?

For various reasons including a sedentary lifestyle, overworking of muscles, not enough stretching or an injury, the fascia and underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together forming knots and discomfort. Imagine a resistance band with a knot tied into it and then imagine stretching the band. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the band. The knot, however, is still there. Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function. Other benefits of using a foam roller include improved flexibility, more effective warm ups before exercise and increased recovery rate after strenuous exercise.

When to foam roll

Foam rolling can be done daily as part of a warm up before training, as part of the cool down process to aid in muscle recovery, in the morning to wake the body up, before stretching to help improve flexibility or when you’re feeling particularly tight in a certain part of the body. Pretty much any time is a good time to foam roll.

Caution: When using the foam roller and working on tight/sore muscles you will experience discomfort or pain. Think of it like the pain you get while stretching. It’s not pleasant but it should not be unbearable, and when you are done it should feel better. It is always recommended to consult with your physician for approval before starting self-myofascial release.

Make foam rolling part of your daily routine

Accessibility is key to a consistent practice and having your own foam roller at home is the perfect way to incorporate foam rolling into your daily routine.

We have specially selected a few key products to offer online and the foam roller was a no-brainer. This is a product we believe in so firmly that it just had to be included!

If you live in South Africa and are looking to purchase your own foam roller, you can purchase it right here and have it delivered straight to your door!

Ways to roll out specific muscle groups

Upper back:

  • Cross the arms over the chest to spread the shoulder blades across the back and place the upper back on the foam roller with the pelvis tilted off the floor
  • move your body down, rolling the roller to just below the neck and then move the body up rolling the roller to just above the lower back
  • If a tender spot is located, stop rolling and rest on the tender spot until the pain decreases

Glutes:

  • Begin by sitting on the foam roller and put the left foot on the right knee. Lean all the weight over to the left side
  • Begin rolling over the muscle and if you feel a sore spot, hold the position till it releases
  • Repeat on the other side

Hamstrings:

  • Place hamstrings on the foam roller and lift the bum off the floor, supporting yourself with your hands
  • Feet are crossed to increase the pressure
  • Roll from just above the back of the knee towards the glute and back again
  • Repeat with the other leg crossed over

Calves:

  • Place the foam roller under the calf muscle
  • Optional – cross one leg over the other to increase the pressure (this tends to be quite intense)
  • Slowly roll over the muscle to find the most tender area and hold on that spot until it releases
  • If doing the optional version, repeat with the other leg crossed over

ITB:

  • Position yourself on your side with the foam roller under your bottom upper thigh just below the hip bone
  • Raise the bottom leg slightly off the floor and place the top foot on the floor for support
  • Roll from just below the hip joint down the outside of the thigh to just above the knee
  • This is a painful one so go gently

Quadriceps:

  • Lie face down with your thighs on the foam roller supporting yourself on your elbows
  • Roll from just below the pubic bone to just above the knee
  • Hold on a tight spot if necessary

Relaxation – Arm circles

  •  Lying on the foam roller on your back, arms are at shoulder height and the feet are hip width apart with a neutral spine
  • Inhale and reach your arms back overhead
  • Exhale circle them round coming back to the beginning position
  • Repeat 4 times
  • Reverse the movement taking the arms out sideways and then up and back to the beginning position
  • Repeat 4 times

Make foam rolling part of your daily routine or training program and you’ll soon feel the difference in how your body moves and responds to movement.

Enjoy!

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