Not too long ago, elite athletes started to attribute their success to various forms of soft tissue work.
The world then started to wonder.
How do we reap the benefits of soft tissue massage en masse and inexpensively?
This was how the foam roller started to become popular and is today available in many, if not most, gyms and training facilities worldwide.
A massive attitude shift towards rehab and injury prevention has changed the way we today approach training and competitive level sports. Work done by McDonald et al (2012) which has been accepted for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning finds that performing SMFR (Self Myofascial Release) with a roller improved range of motion with no impairment on muscular performance.
We all know that muscles need not only be strong but pliable at the same time. It is crucial to have strength and optimal function through a full range of motion as a healthy human being. While static stretching improves the length of your muscles, SMFR works to adjust the tone and pliability of the muscle and fascia. It also relaxes your muscles by activating sensory receptors connecting muscle fibers to tendons.
How awesome is that?
The most common type of foam roller, which is basically a 36 inch long cylindrical piece of of foam, is made out of hard celled foam and varies in density. It is even available in bamboo – my personal favourite.
The individual using the roller would apply pressure to sensitive or “tight” areas in their muscles. This is commonly the ITB, quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes. When starting out, do take note that the initial process may be uncomfortable, much like when first stretching out. Rolling usually takes place before and/or after training, for approximately ten minutes.
Just by rolling, an individual allows her fascia to become more flexible and breaks down scar tissue and adhesions.
Here are the steps taken when attempting to roll
1 Lay as much of your targeted muscle on the roller, within pain limits.
2 Starting from the part of the muscle closest to the midline of your body, begin rolling down the length of your muscles in short, kneading motions.
3 Return to the starting point + repeat this movement for about 2 minutes.
4 Swearing and cursing optional.
I hope that this article would have given readers a brief overview to go get rolling, so pick one up – your body will thank you for years to come.
The Fit Bar Foam + Bamboo rollers can be purchased from Equator Adventures at its retailer outlets. Choose from low, medium, and high density
Alex Salihin is a Singapore-based personal fitness consultant focused on connecting people to wellness through movement. His approach is smart targeted and customized, helping people get strong, flexible, and moving well. Contact Alex at 8571 7750 and see how he can contribute to your well-being. Alex is also the co-founder of the boutique gym LEVEL.