Today, I want to discuss how foam rolling can improve your Pretty Muddy Training. I believe regular foam rolling should be is a critical part of any good training program and can help you feel better, recover faster, and prevent injury!
Benefits of Foam Rolling:
- Self-myofascial release (similar benefits to a deep tissue message)
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases muscle tension and soreness
- Helps prevent injury
- Improves performance
- Speeds recovery
- Fix postural problems
So how does it work?
Foam rolling essentially is a way to experience myofascial release without going to a masseuse. It is not quite as effective as getting a deep tissue message, but you can do it anytime, anywhere! Foam rolling works via the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) in the muscle tendon area. When you apply pressure/tension to the point where the muscle believes it is at risk of injury, the GTO responds by relaxing the muscle. This response is called autogenic inhibition. By stimulating the GTO, we are able to cause relaxation of the muscle and consequently the fascia surrounding it. This allows us the achieve the stretch and range of motion we are after.
Tips For Foam Rolling:
- Concentrate on sore or tight areas of the body.
- Be sure to roll the full length of the muscle.
- Make sure your muscles are warm before you begin your rolling session.
- Stop on sore spots (trigger points) until the pain begins to fade, then return to rolling the full length of the muscle.
- Always go slowly, it might hurt more, but it is well worth it!
- Avoid rolling over bony areas and/or joints.
- Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
- Roll the injured area (ex: my it-band) 2-3 times a day. For prevention of injuries 2-3 times a week is recommended.
My Favorite Exercises:
Glutes & Hamstrings: Begin by sitting on the roller with the soft, meaty part of your glutes directly on top of the roller. Then slowly roll back and forth and slightly side to side to release any tight spots in the muscle. Slowly roll down your leg toward your knee and work the hamstrings in the same way. Change your position from side to side to work the entire muscle. Slowly roll from the buttock down to the knee pausing on any tight or sore spots. You can increase the pressure by crossing one leg over the other.
Quadriceps: Simply lie on top of the roller using your hands for balance and roll slowly from the hip down to the knee. You can perform this exercise with one or both legs on the roller, depending upon how much pressure you can handle or desire. If you want less pressure, keep one leg off the roller and use the foot to support some of your body weight. If you want to increase the pressure, cross one leg over the other.
IT-Band: I’m going to be honest with you, this stretch can be painful but it is totally worth it! Lie on the foam roller on your side, with the roller positioned just below your hip. Your top leg can be in line with the bottom leg if you want a lot of pressure (be careful). Or, you can bend it in front of you to take some of your body weight of your bottom leg and provide better balance. Use your hands for support and roll from the hip down to your knee, pausing on any tight or sore spots. Repeat on the your other side.
Calves: Position the foam roller under your calves. Using your hands for support, slowly roll from the knee down to the ankle pausing on any tight or sore spots. Try rolling with your feet turned in and out. Keep toes flexed and pointed to work the muscle from different angles. To increase the pressure, cross one leg on top of the other!
If you don’t have a foam roller at home, you might check at your local gym. Many fitness facilities have foam rollers near the stretching area, or they might even keep them behind the desk. If you have never tried foam rolling, I hope you will give it a try. Foam rolling can truly take your Pretty Muddy training to the next level!