I’ve been on a bit of a rolling binge lately. In the last few months I’ve bought myself a 36″ foam roller, a tiger tail, a hard plastic travel roller, and gifted a grid/trigger point roller. So what is this roller thing anyways?
Rollers come in many different shapes, sizes, density, and in some cases, material. Most are made out of foam but my travel one is hard plastic. And as its name implies, you roll on it. Rolling is used to help release tension and tightness in your muscle and fascia (connective tissues that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, etc). You can roll after working out, on your recovery day, or just whenever you feel like your muscles need a little relaxation. My massage therapist always reminds me that if I’m unable to see him, I should be rolling instead since the effects are similar.
Trigger points are “knots” that form in your muscles. These knots appear in your muscles when it is injured or overworked. An example of a trigger point is your iliotibial band (here’s an image of some trigger points).You can see a massage therapist for them to work out the knots for you or you can get a foam roller. Rolling can assist in breaking up muscle knots to help your body resume normal blood flow.
So what are the benefits?
- Relieve shin splints pain
- Improved mobility and range of motion
- Reduction of scar tissue and adhesion as it helps to soften and lengthen the fascia which results in the breakdown of scar tissue and adhesion between the skin, muscles, and bone.
- Reduction in stiffness
- Loosen up your muscles
- Improves blood circulation which in turns promotes cell growth and organ function. There will be an more efficient exchange of the nutrients at a cellular level.
So how do I foam roll? Here are some helpful videos
- Top 7 Foam Roller Tips and Exercises
- Foam Roll Series (you can see how you can use a tennis ball instead for a deeper and more focused rolling)
Rolling can be painful (there was a lot of groaning from me) but you have to remember, when you find that tender spot, you stay on it! And remember, rolling/buying a roller is a lot cheaper than getting a sports massage so it’s a good alternative if you want to save some money.
So do you have/use a foam roller? How often do you use it?
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