JackedPack Blog - Epic Fitness & Nutrition Tips
Foam Rolling Your Way To Glory
By Evan Clark, NSCA-CPT
Foam rolling might be the best thing for your muscles you are not doing. If you foam roll your muscles already, we applaud you and hope you are enjoying the benefits it brings. If not, we want you to know that if working out and crushing stacks of weights is dinner, then foam rolling out your muscles is the dessert. Foam rolling your muscles has a number of radical health benefits, and only takes a few minutes. Specifically with muscles, the pressure from foam rolling can help relieve muscle tightness, imbalances, over activation, knots, pain, pressureand inflammation. Foam rolling can help reduce the intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness caused by resistance training, as well as help improve flexibility and joint range of motion. Think of foam rolling as a self-controlled massage. The most effective muscles to roll are those of the lower body and middle to upper back.
Technically speaking, foam rolling is a form of self myofascial release (SMR). Surrounding your muscle tissue is a layer of connective tissue call fascia, which encases muscles and groups of muscles like saran wrap. Fascia binds muscle structures together and helps the muscles keep their shape and function. It’s like the skin of a sausage, holding in all of the goodness (your muscle fibers) together. Often, due to exercise and other reasons, fascia and the muscle tissue underneath it become stuck together. This results in adhesions and knotty areas that can be a source of stiffness, pain and discomfort. Rolling your muscles helps soften and lengthen the fascia and work out the “knots”. This in turn helps increase circulation and stimulate the stretch reflex in your muscles.
To see a few key foam rolling movements view this. Inevitably, you will roll over tender spots or knotty areas and experience a “good pain” or slight discomfort that one feels when one gets a righteous neck or shoulder massage. These specifically tight areas may require extra pressure and time in order to really relax the muscles. Whatever you do, do not roll over the knee or lower back. Some say that rolling your lower back can be good for relieving tension but our general advise is to stay away.
From a weightlifting standpoint, an activity that only takes a few minutes that can help improve flexibility and mobility, circulation, and relieve knots and soreness should be considered essential. Benefits have been shown using the foam roller before lifting as an active warm-up, or afterwards to relax the muscles and prevent soreness. If you are pressed for time in the gym, we recommend prioritizing rolling after your lift. The more you roll and get used to the firmness of the foam rollers, the more you will crave a harder and harder resistance. Meatheads trying to get extra firmness in their roll have been known to uses pvc pipe, lacrosse balls and medicine balls. Considering the amount of muscle mass on bodybuilders, some of those diesels require a damn steamroller to get those tough knots out.