What the heck is foam rolling and why do I NEED it?
The Science behind it: Foam Rolling and Fascia
Foam rolling is an excellent way to treat your fascia and improve its quality on a daily basis. Healthy fascia is a critical element in releasing your potential. Imbalances in your fascial system need to be addressed directly, and with daily, consistent effort, foam rolling will restore your fascia to its pliable and relaxed form.
What is your fascia? It’s the most overlooked aspect of any system in our bodies. Fascia is a 3-D cobweb like substance that is intertwined around every muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, and bone in your body. From feet to fingers, left to right, we are one big fascial sheath. Fascia supports your organs and joints from head to toe, acts as a shock absorber, and is extremely rich in nerve supply. Your strength, flexibility, and fitness performance depend on its health. To give you an idea of what it might look like, next time you walk by the supermarket meat counter, look at the web-like coating on raw, skinless chicken or the silver sinew on a piece of raw filet mignon. That’s fascia. Our human fascia is similar. And when your back, hips, knees, neck, or shoulders start to hurt, your fascia gets involved. It tightens. It knots. The body tries to correct itself, but cant figure out how and some areas compensate for others. That brings pain.
You need to address the fascia in your body to for ultimate performance potential and well being. And while you can always receive hands-on bodywork, you can save a lot of money just by working through foam rolling exercises regularly. These help to activate the nervous system and addresses mobility and fascia. Done on a regular basis, a foam rolling routine will go a long way to reduce or eliminate long term pain and injury.
How to Start A Foam Rolling Routine
Not all gyms carry foam rollers and it might be worth while investing in purchasing your own tools for home use. Most of these foam rolling devices only cost 10-40 dollars and are MUCH more affordable than hiring your own masseuse! There are several different options when it comes to what foam rolling tools to purchase. Here are some of my favorites:
- High density foam roller: A compact, high density roller designed to maintain its shape. The most common tool you will see at gyms and fitness centers.
- The Grid: A travel ready roller with a foam grid designed for trigger point release.
- Yoga Tune Up Balls: The Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls measure at about 2 1/2″ in diameter each and are made of a special rubber that grips at your skin, grabs at multiple layers of muscles, and rubs out adhesions and tension, providing a deep tissue massage. http://www.yogatuneup.com/product/therapy-ball/balls-tote
- Rolling Pin: I use a standard kitchen rolling pin as an inexpensive on the go massage tool. It’s easy to travel with and can be useful in working out the kinks in my calves, quads, and IT band muscles.
- Golf Ball: Perfect for getting all the tiny spots in your feet, a golf ball can aid in healing plantar fasciitis and other not so fun foot problems.
Before you roll away: Know that foam rolling a tight muscle may cause discomfort. This usually means the area NEEDS attention. Work at it slowly. Roll back and forth in small movements or simply apply pressure to create a release. Each time you use your foam roller makes the next time a little bit easier. Just don’t forget to BREATHE!
How to Foam Roll Like A PRO.
- Always check with your doctor before using a foam roller for myofascial release.
- Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout.
- Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.
- Place body part on roller and apply pressure. Stay in place or gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.
- Move slowly and take deep breaths.
- If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
- Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
- Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
- Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.
- Keep your first few foam roller sessions short. About 15 minutes is all you need.
- Rest a day between sessions when you start.
- Choose to take a class featuring a foam roller or yoga tune up balls to learn more techniques to target specific muscles. I teach a class titled “RX Series” at EQUINOX San Francisco monday nights from 6:50-7:15pm that uses the yoga tune up balls to teach self-care techniques. Most gyms now have some sort of foam rolling class featured on the group fitness schedule – see if you can GO and learn how to fix your fascia! Heres a sample video of the RX Series class at EQUINOX:
Get started: Take with you Anywhere Foam Rolling Videos
To help you begin a regular foam rolling routine, I have included some of my favorite Caroline Jordan Fitness foam rolling youtube videos. These free self massage exercise routines can be done at the gym, at home, or while traveling to provide instant relief to sore, tired muscles. Give them a try and let me know what you think! Happy rolling!
Quick, Effective After Workout Massage and Stretching Video (14 minutes)
After Running Foam Roll Routine
Full Body After Workout Foam Rolling Routine (20 minutes)
Simply by taking time to work through foam rolling exercises on a regular basis will pay fantastic dividends. Your body will be able to move more fluidly and freely. You will be able to perform better and feel better. I challenge you to invest time into learning self care massage techniques that will aid you in maintaining a healthy, strong body!! There is NO right or wrong when it comes to foam rolling – and the best way to learn is just to START. You will feel awkward at first – but go slow and just ROLL with it!
Yours in health,
Other Things To Check Out This Week:
- EXCITING! Caroline Jordan Fitness featured on Pop Sugar Fitness. “Say it, see it, and you will believe it! How to use affirmations to lose weight”
- What’s in a trainer’s gym bag? Read this great article from ACE fitness to find out and stock your gym tote up with the best of the best!
- Get your free facial/massage courtesy of Caroline Jordan! Caroline Jordan has teamed up with Candle Spas, a members-only subscription, to bring you a complimentary facial/massage to help you rejuvenate, refresh, and relax. Don’t delay- your complimentary facial or massage will be held for 72 hours but after that, it may be released to the next person in line. Get your FREE facial right now when you click the link below: http://promotions.candlespas.com/mrm