You ever see one of these foam tubes in or outside of the gym? That bad boy is a foam roller. You ever ask what does foam rolling do? Well before I even asked this question, I literally had no idea what a foam roller was until I started my training to become a personal trainer. I was introduced do it by being asked to find a tender spot on my quad and holder it there until the pain either was gone or had lessened.
I did so and all of the sudden I felt this knot release in my leg and my lower back seemed to have less tension! I felt like I could breathe better all of the sudden and that my body was better aligned. This was temporary feeling, but I kept doing it because it felt awesome!
So I was taught ultimately that foam rolling, also referred to as self myofacial release, is meant to help realign the body by releasing adhesion in your muscles. What the heck is an adhesion!? It’s essentially a knot, like the type that you get when you say you have a knot in your back. Well these knots can be found anywhere in your muscle fibers, anywhere in your body.
So by releasing these adhesions, the theory is that the muscle will be less tight, allowing for it to be at the length it is supposed to be. Once the muscle starts functioning at it’s proper length, the antagonist muscle, will no longer be in a shortened position. In essence the two will work cohesively, the way they were designed to play off each other. If this happens, then the body is able to function optimally, both in and out of the gym.
What Does Foam Rolling Do For Injuries?
Foam rolling can help tight spots in your body like we said. If you have stiffness from injuries, you can foam roll these spots. Like we said, foam rolling is all about allowing your muscular skeletal system to function the way it is supposed to. So when it does, muscle tension often vanishes ofter continual use.
The most common imbalance in the body today is an anterior pelvic tilt. It when the hip flexors are tight and usually coupled with weak or inactive glute muscles. When this happens the top of the pelvis rotates forward, leaving a protruding gut and an unnatural curvature in the lower spine. This is one of the biggest causes of lower back pain.
In society today we lead jobs that require us to sit for long hours, leading to tight hip flexors and weak glutes. Coupled with little exercise, we can find ourselves with various muscle imbalances in our bodies. Now the imbalance described above is one of many imbalances that can be present in ones body. Others can be a protruding neck, pigeon toed feet, protruding shoulders and even a posterior tilted pelvis.
All of these muscle imbalances can be helped by foam rolling. They work best though when coupled with strengthening exercises for the weak/inactive muscles. If you need me to help you diagnose an imbalance in your muscular skeletal system, feel free to shoot me a message below!
You can reap massive benefits when it comes to better alignment. But there are foam rolling benefits that include:
- Lessening soreness if done after working out
- Less muscle tension
- Less time for recovery due to better blood flow to your muscles
- Better your Range of Motion (ROM)
When foam rolling to target muscle imbalances, it is best to hold it on the tender spot for at least 30 -45 seconds. This will ensure that the adhesion breaks apart and starts to create a better muscle alignment pattern.
What Does a Grid Foam Roller Do?
A grid foam roller differs from a regular flat surface roller. The differences is that these grids, or bumps that are on many foam rollers like the TriggerPoint Grid Foam Roller have provide a chance for you to target adhesions that are deeper into your muscle tissue. Often flat surface rollers are great at targeting surface adhesions but lack the capability to really dig deeper.
You can also get similar benefits from using a tennis ball or field hockey ball if you are looking to target deeper adhesions. These balls can provide similar benefits that the TriggerPoint foam roller does.
Best Spots In The Body To Target
Foam rolling any sore spot in the body is advocated and can provide relief. But more often than not I find that certain spots cause muscle imbalances more than others. The best places to target to help realign your body are:
- Latissimus Dorsi
- IT Bands
- Upper Chest
Why Does Foam Rolling Hurt?
Often times foam rolling can cause excruciating temporary pain. The pain is usually worse at the cause of the muscle imbalance. Like we talked about above, these are the same type of knots that are targeted when you get a deep tissue massage. The purpose of deep tissue massage is to release tension, especially in the upper body and neck allowing you to feel more relaxed. The same is true with self myofacial release.
The more you use the foam roller on tender spots, the less it will hurt. You will be getting rid of a lot of buildup in the muscles, allowing the inflammation to go down more and more. From my personal experience the pain doesn’t ever really disappear altogether. But it will hurt a lot less than it did when you first started if you continue to do it on a consistent basis. Also, the more you do it, the faster these knots usually break apart.