Posts Tagged ‘Fascia’

If you regularly exercise with any intensity, you are quite familiar with what I like to call “the pain of progress”.  Muscle soreness is very common after heavy or intense training.  I don’t know too many people that would refuse a massage, but unfortunately, regular massage sessions can carry a hefty price tag and may not always be the most convenient (you have to schedule a time, drive there, maybe wait, etc.).  So, what’s a fit guy or girl to do?

Enter the foam roller.  I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with this reasonably-priced yet equally evil little piece of foam.  This is a useful tool for performing self-massage or self myofascial release.  There are many varieties of foam rollers to choose from – different densities, ones with ridges, and everything in between.

Quick anatomy lesson:  Superficial fascia is the soft connective tissue that is just under the skin and it’s purpose is to surround and connect muscles and other structures within the body.  Sometimes this fascia gets very tight and “stuck together” creating adhesions.  These adhesions can cause a loss of motion, pain, and overall reduced flexibility.

What:  Using a foam roller, you can perform self myofascial release, trigger point therapy, or general muscle massage on just about any area of the body.  It takes a bit of practice, but the end result is well worth it.

When:  Always make sure that you are adequately warmed up (either do this after a workout or after a few minutes of exercise to make sure all the muscles and joints are warm).

How:  Make sure you have a clear space on the floor to work.  Position the targeted bodypart on the foam roller, and slowly roll back and forth across the roller.  If you find one particular area to be more sensitive, stop and hold that position for a few seconds or minutes until it “releases”.  You only need 5-15 minutes per session.  I’m not going to lie to you – it hurts and sometimes it can hurt ALOT!

Tips:  Always check with your doctor to make sure that this is an appropriate therapy for you (especially if you have heart-related issues or chronic pain).  When you first start out, rest a day in between areas like you would during a workout (i.e. don’t do leg sessions two days in a row) and make sure you drink plenty of water!  Never roll directly over a joint or bony area.

Popular Target Areas:  Hamstrings, glutes, quads, iliotibial band (lateral thigh), calves, upper back, and lats.

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If you are consistent with using a foam roller, you will notice that not only does your soreness subside more quickly, your range of motion and flexibility will increase.  As a result of this, your workouts will benefit as well.  You will be able to strengthen you body within a larger range of motion, your exercise form may improve, and you will also be less likely to injure yourself during your workouts (due to poor flexibility).

So, get rolling!