The benefits of foam rolling
Better Version of You
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, foam rolling 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.
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While intra-workout foam rolling may have its place in rehabilitation settings and other special circumstances, post-workout foam rolling is where the lion’s share of the benefits come from.
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 properly foam roll, one should roll the length of a muscle about four times over the course of 1 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 balls and tennis balls 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website http://www.pritchardperformance.com.