The Power of Foam Rolling

Often times when an individual partakes in physical activity on a regular basis, at some point they will experience delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS). An individual is at a higher risk of experiencing DOMS if they do not do a thorough warm up and cool down during their workout. DOMS can increase within the first 24 hours post-exercise, and will typically peak within 24 to 72 hours; additionally, the pain from DOMS will generally disappear within 5 to 7 days (Pearcey et. al, 2015).

Many stretching techniques can be used to assist with this, however, this post will highlight the benefits of foam rolling and tips on how to perform it correctly. Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique that consists of an individual using their body weight to apply pressure on the soft tissue. The benefits of foam rolling include:

  • Reduces muscle soreness
  • Assists in DOMS recovery
  • Increase in voluntary muscular activation
  • Improvements in vertical jump height (peak leg power)
  • Improves flexibility and range of motion.

Foam rolling can be performed during both the warm up and cool down phase of your workout, and is recommended to be performed daily (Pearcey et al., 2015). Having proper technique during foam rolling is critical for its success. The following includes tips on how to use your foam roller correctly, as well as things to avoid.

  1. Don’t foam roll too quickly.

Be patient and take the time to be thorough. Roll until you find a tender spot and hold in place for 30-90 seconds. You can do small movements back and forth over the tender spot, or just hold in place.

  1. Don’t foam roll directly onto shoulder blades.

The rotator cuff is a very vulnerable and sensitive area, and should be stretched through dynamic or static means, as opposed to a self-myofascial release approach.

  1. Where you feel pain may not be the origin.

Often times where we feel pain is a result of a muscular imbalance/compensation somewhere else in the body. Follow the full length of the muscle, even in non-tender areas to get the best result. This will help to alleviate pain and tension in other areas of the body (Runnersconnect, 2015).

  1. Use proper form and posture.

If you’re foam rolling your quadriceps muscles, you must be bracing your body in a plank position. If you engage your core, you will ensure that your alignment is neutral to help prevent your hips from dropping. It’s important to keep your spine in neutral alignment at all times, as well as make sure that your feet and ankles are pointing straight forward and aren’t internally or externally rotating (Runnersconnect, 2015).

  1. Have a positive mindset!

Sometimes people will associate the foam roller with feeling pain, and will avoid incorporating it into their exercise regime. Telling yourself positive affirmations such as, “this will make me feel so much better,” or “this will help me so I don’t feel sore tomorrow,” can be a strategy to use when considering foam rolling.

 

References:

Pearcey, G.E., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamato, J., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G., Button, D.C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed on-set muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1). 5-13.

The 4 mistakes you're making when foam rolling. (2015). Retrieved from runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/foam-rolling-for-runners-mistakes/

 

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