Are you ready for it?
Ok it is vital to spend a good 10 to 15 minutes stretching and foam rolling after a session to really make the most of the work you have put in during that time. The foam roller can be used on the entire body and it is a major help towards training performance and injury prevention. It can be beneficial for various types of training and is an effective tool for building physique, recovery and injury prevention. The foam roller is an effective form of self-myofascial release (SMR) and it is being used by athletes in different training and sports to increase performance and aid recovery.
Myofascial release works basically as a massage. To achieve the “release” you would apply a low-load, long-duration dragging force across layers of the body’s soft tissue. The body, in time and through different mechanisms, will release the tissue and mobility between those sliding surfaces. The foam roller can be used instead of hands. It may not be able to have the same impact on the muscles as a massage therapist, for example, but it can be a great alternative.
Benefits of Performing SMR
The foam roller can be a major benefit to athletes or even gym goers with various levels of ability. It can increase blood flow through the body, increase range of motion and help create better movement. Performing SMR will massively decrease the chance of injury and help aid your recovery time after you train. The obvious benefits of this are the potential to increase the number of training sessions per week or increase the length of session gradually, helping speed up results. It will majorly help your performance in the gym as you’ll be able to work the muscles with a better range of motion.
Where To Start With A Foam Roller
One muscle many will often benefit from using the foam roller on is the calves. Using it on your calves can give you almost instant results. Many things we do in life or training can affect the calves, such as the shoes we wear or the way we sit can lead to the calf being shortened for periods of time. This means the range of motion and movement of the ankle is limited.
How To Use A Foam Roller On Your Calves
1. Place one leg on the roller, with the other leg on top of it.
2. Raise the hips and then slowly begin to roll towards the knee.
3. If and when you find a tender spot, stop there and hold for about 20 seconds.
4. Repeat on this area three to four times.
5. Then set the hips on the ground and rotate three to four times side by side.
Next, the quads are another area which many athletes or gym goers use the foam roller on. Similar to the calves, our lifestyles mean they can become shortened, which affects the hips and lower back.
How To Use The Foam Roller On Your Quads
1. Get into a plank position and place the foam roller just above the kneecap.
2. Start the slow roll down towards the hip.
3. Stop on any tender spot and hold for roughly 20 seconds.
4. Then resume the rolling, after three to four rolls, bend the knee three to four times.
Throughout both of these, don’t forget to breathe!
When To Perform SMR
The foam roller has its advantages before and after training, either as part of a dynamic warm up or a cool down. If you use it before training, do it first before you get into any stretching or cardio. This will help to get the blood flowing and reduce tension in muscles. When you’re using the roller to cool down, it can help target pooled blood in the working muscles, allowing fresh oxygen and nutrients to enter, which starts healing your muscles. If you have the time, 5 minutes before you train can have many benefits which I’ve stated.
I encourage the use of the foam roller if you’re an athlete, gym goer or compete in any sport, event or activity which puts significant stress on your body and muscles.