Foam Rolling, self-myofascial release, is really just a form of self massage that allows you to penetrate deep into the muscle in order to release tension and trigger points that cause pain, limits range of motion and inhibits correct movement patterns during daily activities and exercise.
Small "knots" or trigger points are common and can develop during daily activities such as yard work or lifting heavy objects, from heavy workouts, and even incorrect posture or sleeping positions. Over time this can cause further injury from altered movement patterns and limit our fitness gains.
Although general stretching is an integral part of any comprehensive fitness program, you cannot remove a trigger point by simply stretching it. The combination of foam rolling and static stretching is ideal.
Try these 10 Simple Foam Roll Exercises for maximal performance and muscle gains while reducing fatigue, improving recovery, and increasing your range of motion.
Here are a few reasonably priced foam rollers that you can use at home or on the go:
A Basic foam roller comes in various sizes from 6" to 36" and should be dense enough to release some of your toughest knots. Choose the smaller size to take it on the go and for easy storage. The longer, 36" option allows you more support with the option to perform core and balance exercises with it.
This premium foam roller works like a deep tissue massage to get even deeper into the muscle tissue than ordinary rollers do.
Combo packs allow you to vary the tools used to get those tough to reach trigger points at a discounted price.
4 Foam Roller Mistakes to Avoid
1. Avoid rolling directly onto your lower vertebrae.
Your lower back muscles will contract to help protect the spine which can cause discomfort or injury.
2. Do not hold your breath, though you may want to when it gets uncomfortable.
Focus on taking long deep breaths as you roll in order to increase blood flow to the working muscles and derive more of the benefits of foam rolling exercises.
3. Rolling evenly on both sides.
If it’s your right leg that has an issue, spend more time on that side but don’t neglect your other leg completely. Focus on the muscles and joints that need more TLC, even if they are mostly on one side of your body.
4. Avoid rolling too quickly.
Take Longer, slower, more measured rolls, while taking deep breaths. This will cause your brain to send a message to your muscles to relax.
Don't forget your recovery days. You will be amazed at how much better you feel and perform!