Foam rolling is a great exercise, commonly used to self-release muscles.
The exercise is a type of self-myofascial release in which pressure is applied to certain parts of the body to limits pain and stiffness by increasing blood flow and flexibility.
Adding additional movements and stretching forces to the area when pressure is applied can help maximize the benefits of fluid and nutrient replacement and improve overall movement.
Foam Rolling, now a staple warmup in many gyms, exercise results in a significant increase in range of motion. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, when combined with static stretching, foam rolling can effectively improve flexibility. 1
It’s like a deep tissue massage for your muscles and is great for working tight muscles that can cause problems with joints and mobility. It is used to break down the scar tissue that has developed within the muscles and to increase blood flow to the muscles.
Along with muscles, it also acts in soft tissue called fascia. Fascia is the tissue that attaches to your muscles to provide support throughout your body. Fascia should be mobile because it is elastic and can stretch and move as one with the rest of your body. However, often due to increased exercise intensity, poor posture or movement patterns, stress and lifestyle factors, this fascia may tighten and become stiff, restricting movement and even causing pain.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
Six specific benefits of foam rolling that you can get by:
1. Reduce the risk of developing adhesions
The foam rolling can reduce the risk of developing adhesions. Tissue adhesions are formed as a result of collagen bonding between muscle layers. If a muscle is held in a specific position during extended periods of inactivity or is overused during repetitive motion, collagen can build up between the skeletal muscle layers, creating adhesions or lumps that bind to the muscles. Restricts the ability of the sheaths to slide against each other. The friction and pressure generated by regular use of a foam roller can protect collagen from bonding between the layers of muscle tissue.
2. Reduce tissue tension and muscle stiffness to increase joint ROM
Myofascial release can reduce tissue tension and muscle stiffness to increase joint range of motion (ROM). When adhesions form between layers of tissue, they can cause the muscle to remain in a shortened position, which subsequently increases stress on the surrounding muscles and restricts joint motion. Regular use of foam rollers for myofascial release can reduce muscle tightness, helping to ensure optimal joint ROM and enhance overall movement performance.
3. Help restore the proper length-tension relationship to the muscles
Foam rollers can help restore the proper length-tension relationship to the muscles. Several muscles work together to create joint motion; If a section of tissue becomes tight, it creates an imbalance so that muscles working on the opposite side of the joint can lengthen and become inhibited. This means that they will not produce the proper amount of force for optimum speed. Using a foam roll for myofascial release can reduce stiffness to ensure the proper balance of competing forces around the joint. It is best to use foam rolling as a warm-up before using multiplanar patterns that sufficiently create full extensibility of the tissue involved.
4. Help reduce pain after an exercise session
Foam rollers help reduce pain after an exercise session to promote the recovery process. The natural inflammation that occurs during the tissue-repair process combined with a lack of movement after an exercise session may cause muscle adhesions. Exercise-induced muscle damage prompts a repair process. This occurs when new collagen molecules are made to help repair injured tissue. If the tissue is not moved properly during this repair process, collagen can cause adhesions between the muscle layers. Using a foam roller after exercise can help reduce the risk of new collagen forming adhesions between the layers.
5. Help reduce pain after an exercise session
The pressure from rolling can help increase blood flow and increase heat to the tissue involved. Using foam rollers helps reduce stiffness and increase joint ROM, which are important before a challenging workout. When using a foam roller during a warm-up, be sure to only use it for a short time to increase the temperature of the tissue and reduce stress. Prolonged pressure with a foam roller can weaken the muscle and affect its ability to contract during a workout.
6. Help promote a sense of relaxation after a workout
Myofascial release can help promote a sense of relaxation after a workout, an important psychological benefit. When using a foam roller during a post-workout cool-down, aim to move at a consistent pace of about 1 inch per second; Concentrate on your stressed areas for 90 seconds to allow your tissue to relax and lengthen.
Foam Rolling Tips
Begin with less dense rollers
- Start with less dense rollers and work your way up. These are different types of foam rolling densities, so if you’re just starting out, adopt a softer roller. Of these, you can move up to a dense roller or even the dreaded half-cousin: the RumbleRoller (which has ridges and torture grooves).
- As you roll each muscle, be sure to hold the tender areas for 30 seconds to one minute. Breathe in and think about relaxing the muscle, as this will actually help trigger a neuromuscular response in the muscle to relax.
- The muscles are coated in a layer of connective tissue, called fascia, which can build up and bundle up over time. It can cause discomfort, soreness, and also encourages us to compensate by changing our normal movement patterns. Changes in movement and compensation can lead to injury. Therefore, the foam rolling can be a successful technique for maintaining full range of motion and protecting our muscles in everyday and fitness activities.
Do not bend the joints of the body
Do not bend the joints of your body, especially your knees, elbows or ankles. Move the roll to the joint, but never to the end. Be careful when flexing your back muscles to keep the spine straight; Avoid turning side to side, as we have swim ribs that you definitely don’t want to roll over.
Do a little work by holding on to the body weight
It is not a passive technique. The benefits are similar to those of deep tissue massage, but here’s the deal: You are the massage therapist. This means that you have to do a little work by holding on to your body weight as you roll. If it puts any pressure on your wrists, lower down on your forearms or reduce the amount of pressure on your arms, modifying as needed. More you do it, easier it will become.
Modify foam rolling by reducing the pressure
Remember that foam rolling is certainly uncomfortable, but it should never be extremely painful. If you need to modify by reducing the pressure on the roller, please do so! The more you roll, the easier it becomes, and the more you’ll see amazing benefits from this technique.
9 best foam rolling move for entire body
1. Quads rolling
- To do this roll, come into a plank position with the hands supporting your the weight.
- Place the roller underneath the thighs and slowly begin to roll in one direction.
- When starting to feel a tight spot, then hold it and breathe.
- Take as little or as much time as needed.
2. Hamstrings rolling
- To start this roll seat on the foam roller, with your hands behind you on the floor to support the body weight.
- Walk the hands back to roll down the back of the thighs into the hamstring muscles.
- Hamstrings roll is not quite as intense, so if you want to make a deeper release, stack your one leg on top of your other to initiate more pressure on this muscle group.
3. Glute and hip joint (piriformis) rolling
- Begin in the same position as the hamstring rolling (seated on the roller), but make a figure 4 with the legs by crossing one ankle over the opposite knee.
- Whichever your leg is bent, angle that knee down toward the floor as you slowly roll in and out.
- Glute and hip joint (piriformis) foam rolling is a killer glute and piriformis roll; great for those who do a lot of cardio, HIIT training, runners, and cyclists.
4. Inner thigh (adductors) rolling
- To start, come into a plank position, but lower your one knee to the floor (so the forearms and knee are supporting the bodyweight).
- Place the foam roller parallel to the torso and the opposite thigh on the roller (bend this leg at a 90-degree angle).
- Gently roll in and out, targeting the inner thighs (adductor muscles).
5. IT band and outer thigh (abductors) rolling
- Come into a side plank position with the bottom thigh resting on the foam roller and the top leg crossed in front and placed on the floor in front of you.
- Using the foot (one that’s on the floor), you’ll guide the foam roller to gently roll and target the IT band, which is on the outer part of the thigh running from the hip to your knee.
- Your IT bands can start to get a little sore and achy if you do a lot of repetitive exercise — repeating the same movements over and over.
- This rolling is special for the Runners, cyclists, power walkers.
6. Calves rolling
The calves foam rolling is very similar to the hamstring rolling.
- Start seated with the hands planted on the floor behind the hips, and place the foam roller underneath the calf muscles.
- Lift the hips off the floor (so the weight is distributed between the hands and the foam roller) and start to gently guide the roller up and down the calves.
- For more intensity: Stack your one ankle over the other to make things more exciting.
7. Back (latissimus dorsi) rolling
This foam rolling is a relaxing roll, which is perfect for soothing your shoulders that are hunched in office chairs typing or tight from driving.
- Lie on the back with the foam roller under the shoulder blades, knees bent and feet planted firmly on the floor.
- Cross the arms over the chest to create more space between the back muscles and gently start to roll down.
- It is one roll where you want to avoid rolling from side to side. Roll straight down the back.
8. Back of head rolling
The back of head foam rolling is another relaxing roll, especially Zen-like after a long day of the work.
- Place a roller on the floor and rest the back of the neck on the roller, so the head is resting on it (such as an awkward, hard pillow).
- Very slowly, turn the head 1 inch to the right to create some pressure on the back of the neck, toward your ear.
- Come back to center and repeat on your other side.
9. Chest opener rolling
This move is a fantastic way to end the foam rolling session.
- To do this, place the foam roller on the floor and have a seat on the very end of the roller.
- Lie back so the roller is like an extension of the spine, straight on the floor.
- Let the arms fall open at the sides (such as a capital letter “T”) and embrace the wonderful heart opener and stretch across the chest muscles.
- Your tight pectorals can cause your shoulders to fall forward and create bad posture.
- It is a wonderful stretch to ensure that the muscles stay flexible and avoid pulling the shoulders into an uncomfortable position throughout the day.
- Close the eyes, breathe, and enjoy!
- Su H, Chang NJ, Wu WL, Guo LY, Chu IH. Acute Effects of Foam Rolling, Static Stretching, and Dynamic Stretching During Warm-ups on Muscular Flexibility and Strength in Young Adults. J Sport Rehabil. 2017 Nov;26(6):469-477. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2016-0102. Epub 2016 Oct 13. PMID: 27736289.