To Foam Roll or not to Foam Roll
Anyone who has visited us at Root has heard our spiel about the importance of foam rolling both before and after your workout. But why are we so into foam rolling? We’re here to tell you!
First, we should go over some of the basics of what a foam roller is and what purpose it serves in your workout. Foam rolling is known in its technical sense as self-myofascial release. Myofascial release is the application of low-intensity forces to soft tissues over a long period of time. This low-intensity force allows tightened or contracted muscles to relax in order to enhance blood and nutrient flow to those specific muscles. This definition helps to explain why we encourage foam rolling both at the beginning AND end of our classes. Broken down simply, myofascial release is a fancy way of saying that we utilize our foam rollers as a sort of self-massage technique to release tight muscles and trigger points. At Root you might hear us mention “trigger point therapy,” in relation to foam rolling, and now you know why!
Trigger point therapy is a great way target specifically sore muscles to help them return to normal function. You might notice the day or two after a particularly hard workout that your muscles ache or moving certain ways causes minor pain. The purpose of rolling after a workout is to avoid this muscle soreness, but it can also help to alleviate it if you’re already sore. We won’t lie, you might feel some pain when you roll out your muscles whether they are sore or not, but in this case, the pain means it’s working! This pain should be bearable although uncomfortable, like when you are stretching. Releasing trigger points through foam rolling helps to re-establish normal movement in your muscles, which ultimately helps to protect you from injuring yourself.
So what are some benefits of foam rolling? We’ve sprinkled some benefits throughout the blog post, but let us break it down.
1. Increased blood flow
- Blood carries nutrients to your muscles, which helps to keep them vitalized during a workout.
2. Improved movements
- You may notice that when your muscles are warm you are able to workout harder. This is no coincidence. Foam rolling combined with a dynamic warm up gets your muscles moving so that your muscles are activated before your workout begins.
3. Decreased Risk of Injury
- Increased blood flow contributes to improved movements and range of motion. This means that when we are working out we are moving our body more effectively and engaging more muscles to assist with our workout, which ultimately leads to lower risk of injury.
4. Decreased recovery time
- Foam rolling can help to improve circulation to a target area if we are injured, but it can also decrease time between workouts. As we mentioned, trigger point therapy is a great way to target and release sore muscles so that you aren’t stuck on the sidelines for too long.
5. Faster results
- There is no miracle workout that will get you in shape overnight. Foam rolling, however, can help you to stay in the game by keeping your muscles warm and healthy, or helping them to recover. The less down time you have to take between workouts, the faster you will see results, it’s that simple!
You might think that you don’t need foam rolling because you have an extensive stretching routine at the beginning or end of a workout, but the simple fact is that stretching and foam rolling are completely different. Stretching is equally as important to your health, but the two should be used to complement each other, not exclusively. We’ll save more on that for next week!
If you are interested in learning more about trigger point therapy or even just looking for advice on the best foam roller for you, one of our expert trainers at RPF would be glad to assist. Stop by and ask us about our free fitness assessment where we can speak more about the importance of foam rolling for your physical health!