Our muscles and nerves are all wrapped up in a kind of tissue of collagen fibers called fascia. Day to day wear and tear in the fascia causes it to develop adhesions and this restricts our motions. Extensive exercise tends to cause additional damage to the fascia.
Foam rolling applies targeted pressure to areas that help reduce adhesions, thereby releasing tension. This increases blood flow and loosens up muscles. This process is called Myofascial Release and can go a really long way to improve the effectiveness of your workouts, muscular recovery and overall motion and efficiency of your body.
1. Loosen up your muscles and increase flexibility: because myofascial releases tension in your muscles and reduces the level of constriction in them, it allows for a greater range of motion. This further reduces pressure on your muscles, joints and ligaments and frees up the body to engage in more dynamic exercises.
2. Reduce stress: When our muscles are not constrained and fascia are tightly wound up the wrong way, the body holds stress. If you’ve ever felt a sense of release and relaxation from a massage, foam rolling works in much the same way to remove blocked up tension and stress from your muscles.
3. Increase circulation and lymphatic functioning: when fascia and muscles are wound up incorrectly and tightly, they tend to constrict blood circulation in some parts of the body. By opening these channels up, foam rolling allows blood and lymph to move better through the body thereby increasing our level of oxygenation and the flushing out of toxins.
So all in all, foam rolling is a great way of preparing and winding down from a workout with numerous health benefits. It helps open up your muscles, improves flexibility, gets rid of stagnant energy and helps you recover and reduce muscle soreness faster. So while it can be a little painful, the same way a deep tissue or Shiatsu massage is, the benefits are phenomenal.
Pro tip: In addition to regular foam rollers like the one pictured above, lacrosse balls are also great because they can get into spots that foam rollers may have a harder time accessing. The pressure is more targeted and can lead to amazing results!
So what are you waiting for? See you at your next workout!