Why You Have to Try Foam Rolling (Injury Prevention Part 4)

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Speak to your doctor before you start foam rolling. None of the advice in this article should be considered medical advice.

Foam rolling is becoming increasingly popular on the internet and in commercial gyms.  I think that is a great development in the fitness community. Foam rolling can help you in multiple ways:

  • Foam rolling will make you less likely to get injured.
  • Foam rolling helps to relieve nagging pain.
  • You will become more flexible and healthier by foam rolling regularly.
  • Foam rolling improves your posture.

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy life without constant pain?

It seems odd that rolling around on a piece of foam can be so good for you. However it actually does work very well. And when you consider that physiotherapists have been doing ‘manual foam rolling’ in the form of massages for years it doesn’t seem as strange. I won’t lie though…You will feel weird when you foam roll for the first time.

If you don’t feel weird it’s probably because you are experiencing the pain that comes with starting foam rolling.

Nonetheless I am believer in foam rolling. It has helped me get rid of knee pain that previously just didn’t want to go away. So give foam rolling a try for at least 1 month before judging it. I promise you that you will feel better and it only hurts for the first couple of times.

Van_Persie_foam_roller93938

Coaches know the benefits of foam rolling. There’s no reason you can’t get those same benefits too.

What does foam rolling do?

Foam rolling is a type of deep-tissue massage. It’s often referred to as self-myofascial release. Basically you use the foam roller to loosen tight muscles or relieve tension from trigger points. Therapist’s have been using deep-tissue massage for a long time so it’s no surprise that foam rolling works incredibly well.

Pain is a clear sign that something is wrong. Your body is sending you a signal that it wants you to stop what you are doing. The place you feel pain isn’t always the area of your body that is causing the pain though. Again this might seem strange to some people and very obvious to others.

What’s this got to do with foam rolling?

Releasing tensions from certain trigger points can get rid of pain in your knees, back, shoulder, etc.

So if you have been struggling with knee pain for a long time and your doctor can’t really say what’s wrong with you…

It might not be your knee that is causing the pain in the first place.

What causes these knots in your muscles?foam-roller

The reason you have tight muscles can range from lack of movement to repetitive movements or because of past injuries. There’s no way for me to know why you have muscle tightness. I can help you get rid of it though.

Anything that you do a lot of could cause imbalances (and tightness) in your body. Maybe you spend all your day sitting at a computer. You might be an athlete who performs the same movements thousands of times over and over again. Or maybe you just have poor posture.

Those groups range from one extreme to another. They don’t have much in common but they would both benefit greatly from a high quality foam roller.

Will stretching get rid of these knots?

While stretching is also an important aspect of an injury prevention routine it serves a different purpose to foam rolling. Stretching will make you more flexible and improve your posture. The type of muscle knots that often cause pain won’t be handled by stretching alone.

By stretching you make a muscle ‘longer’. If you think about a piece of string with a knot in it; pulling the ends (stretching) won’t get rid of the knot. The same principle applies to stretching a muscle. You will get more flexible with time but the nagging pain won’t go away.

Foam rolling releases tension that has built up between muscle fibers. This is a different layer of muscle fibers which doesn’t get affected by stretching.

What muscle should you foam roll?

Whole books have been written about specific trigger points that cause pain in certain areas. It’s honestly only useful if you know what you are doing and can pinpoint exactly where the pain is. There are however some areas that most people should foam roll. These have become the most common movements to do on a foam roller for good reason. They work for relieving pain and reducing your chance of injury. So once you get started with foam rolling try these movements first.

If they don’t work you can always search the internet for trigger points that might be causing your specific problem.

How fast should you move on the foam roller?

I prefer moving relatively slowly but others do it faster. It doesn’t really matter as long as you are rolling the right areas. You will immediately notice if it’s working or not because releasing tension from your muscles isn’t exactly comfortable.

“Foam rolling hurts! What am I doing wrong?”

Like I mentioned before it isn’t supposed to be completely comfortable especially if you are just getting started. Your muscles have been tight for years and now you are finally relieving the tightness. On the other hand it shouldn’t be extremely painful. A good rule to use is: If it hurts afterwards stop doing it.

Unlike with weight lifting some discomfort while foam rolling is normal. As long as you aren’t sore after foam rolling you’ll be fine.

You should feel better after foam rolling.

While foam rolling doesn’t ‘cure’ all injuries it has helped myself and many others deal with nagging pain. For some of you foam rolling will be life-changing. For others it will be a great way to stay healthy, injury-free and improve your posture.

lebron the grid

If Lebron James uses The Grid then it’s good enough for you and me.

 

PS: If you are looking for a foam roller check out my review of The Grid by Trigger Point Performance. I have been using this foam roller for a while and I won’t be
changing anytime soon.

 

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