Foam Roll for Mobility

Michelle using a green foam roller on the right hip

Do you have tight muscles? Painful movement? Poor flexibility?
Massage your muscles with a foam roller to reduce pain, muscle tension, and recovery time.

What is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling is a method of self-myofascial release, a flexibility technique that will help you to release tension and decrease activity of overactive muscle fibers in your body.

Poor posture, repetitive movements, and trauma cause inflammation in your body. Inflammation increases muscle tension and causes muscle spasms. Muscle spasms create trigger points, or knots, in soft tissue. These knots cause pain and interfere with muscle contraction. They also make muscles resistant to stretching, decreasing range of motion. This contributes to muscle imbalances, movement compensations or injury.

Studies have shown that self-myofascial release is an effective treatment method to increase range of motion without suffering muscle performance. Foam rolling helps to release microspasms and to break up knots that develop in traumatized tissue. This removes the hindrances to muscle lengthening, thus improving your flexibility and balanced movement while reducing pain.

Michelle holding a massage ball in her right hand
A Massage Ball is great for working out knots in the shoulders, back and feet

What to Do:

Hold pressure on tender areas of muscle tissue for a period of time to release knots, allowing the muscle to relax.
Foam roll before a workout or physical activity to prepare your muscles for movement and to reduce the chance of injury. Or, foam roll at any time to reduce soreness, speed recovery and move better.

Michelle using a foam roller on the upper back
Foam Rolling the Upper Back

How to Foam Roll:

  1. Roll a foam roller or other tool slowly over the length of the muscle. Move at a rate of 1 inch per second.
  2. Find the most tender spot in the muscle belly. A tender spot will be painful, about a 6-8 on a scale of 1-10. 
  3. Hold the roller on the tender spot and massage it for 30-90 seconds, until you feel a release in the area or the pain subsides and the tissue softens.
  4. Move the foam roller slowly along the length of the muscle again.
Michelle using a green foam roller on the hamstring
Foam Rolling the Hamstrings

Tips for Foam Rolling:

  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Pull your navel in towards your spine at all times to stabilize your lumbopelvic hip complex.
  • Use your extremities to increase or decrease pressure on the soft tissue.
  • Keep the muscle relaxed. If you tighten or tense your muscle, it will prevent the roller from penetrating the deeper layers of soft tissue.
  • Areas that have myofascial restrictions will be more painful to mobilize. They will become less painful with subsequent sessions as soft tissue restrictions break down.
Michelle using a foam roller on the glutes
Foam Rolling the Glutes
  • Do not put pressure on bones, tendons, open wounds, or varicose veins. Remove pressure if you feel pulsing, numbness or tingling. 
Video: What Exactly is Foam Rolling and Why Should I Roll? By TriggerPoint

Contraindications:

You should not use a foam roller or any other method of self-myofascial release if you have the following conditions:

Congestive heart failure, organ failure, bleeding disorders, contagious skin conditions, cancer, osteoporosis, infections, acute rheumatoid arthritis, blood clot, aneurysm, anticoagulant therapy, bursitis, sutures, goiter, skin lesions, hypersensitive skin conditions, open wounds, healing fractures, obstructive edema, diabetes, fever, advanced degenerative changes.

Michelle holding a green foam roller overhead

Consult a medical professional before performing self-myofascial release techniques.

References:

Stull, Kyle. “What do Foam Rollers Do?” 20 December 2019. National Academy of Sports Medicine. https://blog.nasm.org/foam-rolling-smr/what-do-foam-rollers-do.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Should you add foam rolling to your workout routine?” December 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-you-add-foam-rolling-to-your-workout-routine.

IDEA Authors. “Foam-Rolling Techniques: A 4-Step Formula.” 21 September 2017. IDEA Health & Fitness Association. https://www.ideafit.com/uncategorized/different-foam-rolling-techniques-why-the-fuss/.

Clark MA, Lucett SC, Sutton BG. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. 1st ed rev. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning: 2014.

Published by Raezyn

Writer, Dancer, Laugh-er

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