Foam rollers are extremely popular nowadays. Locations like Goal and Walmart carry them. Grandmas and grandpas are foam rolling. Docs are prescribing them. What started as a distinct segment mobility instrument used solely by essentially the most obscure health nerds has grow to be commonplace. However if you wish to get essentially the most worth out of your foam curler—and keep away from doing any harm—it’s good to learn to use it accurately. It’s not so simple as “rolling” on it. There’s an artwork to it. And a science.
However earlier than we get into the way to use a foam curler, let’s go over what a foam curler is definitely doing (and never doing).
What Foam Rolling Does (and Doesn’t) Do
Foam rolling will not be bodily breaking apart knots or muscle adhesions.
Foam rolling can be not lengthening the tissue such as you’re rolling out a slab of dough. Analysis exhibits that foam rolling doesn’t bodily stretch or lengthen the muscle.
As a substitute, foam rolling appears to loosen up the nervous system. It really works by neuromuscular connections fairly than brute pressure bodily modification. After foam rolling an space whereas transferring that tissue, your nervous system has decided that that is the correct, protected vary of movement for you. Foam rolling offers you a brief alternative to determine a brand new “protected” sample. Fairly than bodily adhesions, it’s eradicating neuromuscular blocks and dangerous patterns. You reset the system and reprogram it, or depart it open to reprogramming with higher motion.
Foam rolling may additionally works by one thing known as diffuse noxious inhibitory management, or DNIC. When a tissue hurts, it’s as a result of your nervous system has determined that inhibiting motion in that space (by ache) is safer and higher for you than permitting motion by that space. However typically, the nervous system decides to blunt the ache as a result of it’s safer and higher so that you can transfer it than stay immobile. Think about a soldier taking a giant wound in battle. He’s grievously wounded, however excessive ache would solely forestall him from making it to security. The nervous system blunts the ache so he could make it again alive. The froth curler could also be doing one thing related.
Use a Foam Curler
Chill out into the curler; don’t tense up.
This may be powerful to tug off as a result of by its very nature, foam rolling is uncomfortable. Painful, even. However right here’s what occurs while you tense up: your physique fights the therapeutic impact the froth curler is meant to have on you.
You need to be capable of breathe simply and usually. For those who’re holding your breath, that signifies a stress response. You’re in all probability going too onerous or being too tense.
Don’t grimace. Don’t grit your enamel. Attempt to smile, or no less than preserve a impartial facial features. Any outward expression of ache and discomfort will register together with your nervous system. What you’re making an attempt to do right here is reassure your physique which you could deal with the ache, that the ache isn’t all that unhealthy, and the tissue can begin feeling higher.
Keep at a spot till it stops hurting.
For those who’re dashing by your foam rolling session, skipping over areas as a result of they “harm an excessive amount of,” you might be lacking the purpose. As a substitute of avoiding the ache, it’s good to search out and sit with the ache. When you discover a tender spot, keep there for no less than a minute or till the ache subsides.
Discover vary of movement whereas sitting on a young spot.
Whenever you roll your quads and discover a tight, tender spot, keep on that spot after which prolong and flex your knee by its full vary of movement. This appears to make foam rolling more practical than in case you had been to only keep on the spot with zero motion by the knee.
Concentrate on one massive space per session.
You’re not going to successfully hit your whole physique in a single session. There’s not sufficient time for that. As a substitute, deal with one massive space— your legs, your glutes, your calves, your hamstrings, your pecs, your thoracic backbone—and do an awesome job there. Be thorough and take your time. You’ll be able to deal with one other part throughout the subsequent session.
Don’t foam roll bones.
Bones shouldn’t be foam rolled. It doesn’t assist. It’s completely pointless. Foam rolling is meant for comfortable tissue utility solely.
Don’t foam roll your backbone.
You’ll be able to and will foam roll the lumbar muscle mass operating on both facet of your backbone, however you shouldn’t roll the precise spinal column itself. As a bone, it doesn’t reply nicely to foam rolling, and it will possibly really irritate and harm you.
Don’t foam roll the positioning of the ache; foam roll the tissues round it.
In case your knee hurts, foam rolling the knee itself in all probability received’t assist. In case your calves harm, foam rolling the calves isn’t the reply.
It’s worthwhile to go above and beneath the affected tissue. Preserve rolling the tissues across the painful space, working your method above and beneath till you discover the tender spot.
Use a lacrosse ball (or two taped collectively) for more durable to succeed in areas.
The froth curler doesn’t work as nicely on each muscle or tissue. Hamstrings, the TFL, the pecs, and particular factors within the thoracic backbone appear to reply significantly better to lacrosse balls. They provide extra direct, focused strain and might actually get deep in there.
Foam roll earlier than exercises to extend vary of movement.
Foam rolling earlier than your exercise is higher for vary of movement and efficiency, particularly in case you benefit from the open “motion window” and transfer. Foam roll, do some mobility drills to benefit from the window, then get to coaching.
Foam roll after exercises to scale back muscle soreness and enhance efficiency.
Research present that foam rolling after coaching reduces subsequent muscle soreness and maintains efficiency (the place it will in any other case endure). I can see foam rolling being very efficient for athletes who have to rapidly get again into coaching after a exercise or competitors.
However general, in case you hold all these ideas in thoughts, foam rolling is fairly simple to do and really versatile. Glad rolling!