Foam rollers are beneficial for muscle recovery | VailDaily.com

Foam rollers are beneficial for muscle recovery

Jimmy Pritchard
Special to the Daily

Foam rolling has been popularized as one of the most effective, and convenient methods of self-myofascial release by modern day strength and conditioning coaches.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it assists in combatting muscle soreness, correcting muscle imbalances, increasing range of motion, and increasing neuromuscular efficiency. Although beneficial, many individuals unknowingly fail to execute foam rolling properly.

Either they do not spend enough time doing so or follow a protocol that is less than optimal.

When to execute

Foam rolling at any time provides unique benefits, with certain windows being more beneficial than others. Prior to a training session, it may assist with muscle activation and increasing range of motion in joints to be used that day.

Intra-workout foam rolling is less common, however, but may have its place in rehabilitation and other special circumstances. Post-workout is where the lion’s share of the benefits are.

It has been reported that foam rolling can radically reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), leading to higher performance via quicker recovery. DOMS largely contributes to decrements in sprint performance, power, and strength endurance, thus decreasing it as much as possible through self-myofascial release methods such as foam rolling prove to be beneficial.

Faster recovery equates to increased training capacity, ultimately yielding higher performance on game day.

How to execute

Understanding the effectiveness of foam rolling is one thing, but implementing it properly is another. To foam roll properly, one should roll the length of a muscle about four times over the course of one minute, resting 30 seconds once completed, and repeating another time.

Applying pressure is key, ensuring that if you find a “hot spot” you settle in on that spot for a brief time until you feel some of the pain and tightness subside. Some areas to target include: the upper back, lower back, hamstrings, hip adductors, iliotibial band, gluteals, Achilles tendons, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, and calves.

A minimum of 20 minutes should be spent foam rolling daily, and its priority level should be equal to that of your training sessions. Ideally, this would be executed after each and every training, as well as on off days.

The use of massage sticks, lacrosse and tennis ball are also excellent options to reach areas such the trapezius, rhomboids, and subscapularis that may be harder to reach with a wide foam roller. I highly recommend investing in a foam roller that you can keep with you whether you are at home, traveling, or simply going to the gym. It is of minimal cost, but the return is certainly worth it.

Jimmy Pritchard has a BSc in Exercise Science from Colorado Mesa University and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the Director of Strength & Conditioning at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or jpritchard@skiclubvail.org. Check out his website http://www.pritchardperformance.com.