Tucked away in a quiet corner of the gym you’ll often find a collection of odd looking devices – swissballs, stretching mats, those tiny little colourful dumbbells , all sorts of random bits and pieces, and amongst it all your very likely to come across a foam roller or two. We’ve all wandered past that corner on our mission around the gym and wondered what that foam contraptions all about , does it have anything to offer, do I have time to tack it on to my workout and will I actually benefit if I hop on for a ride ??
Foam rollers are one of the most effective tools for physique building, recovery and injury prevention with an often immediate impact on performance and overall health.
The technical action we are trying to achieve with foam rolling is known as Self -Myofacial Release, to produce the release we apply a low load with a long duration dragging force across the layers of soft tissue in the body. Over a period of time different mechanisms will release the tissue and mobility between the sliding surfaces is restored. Some of the most basic benefits include increased blood flow, better movement and an increased range of motion, these benefits decrease the chance of injury and maximize recovery duration.
Rolling for as little as 5 minutes pre & post workout can have a great impact on the quality of your training sessions. Pre workout serves to get the blood flowing and reduce tension in the muscles. Post workout the rolling helps to flush out pools of blood in the muscles stimulating oxygen and fresh nutrients to flow into the working muscles to begin the healing process.
The best place to start foam rolling is with your calves, our day to day going about often limits the ankles range of motion leaving the calf in a shortened position, this reduces function up the rest of the body. Follow this up with the quads, again with the lives we lead this area can become shortened and effect the function of the hips contributing to additional stress on the lower back. The upper back or thoracic spine requires attention also – posture these days is far from optimal greatly impacting our extension and rotation.
Lets just put it this way – ‘you don’t know until you’ve tried it!‘ Spare 5-10mins of your workout time and show the foam roller a bit of love, you might just develop a long term relationship that is never going to let you down.