As we age, our once-spry muscles lose elasticity. Joints and connective tissues wear down and lead to aches, pains and injuries. The good news is that there’s an affordable and simple way to maintain a healthy body at any stage of life.
It’s called foam rolling and what it actually does is known as “myofacial” release. When you apply pressure directly to sore muscles with a foam roller, you’re able to roll out knots or adhesions in the muscle. Long story short, it allows your body to bring blood flow to troubled areas, which transports nutrients and oxygen to the muscles for faster repair.
Here are three tips to help you foam roll more effectively:
1. Don’t roll directly onto the area of pain. Avoid rolling directly on the source of pain, and, instead, target the muscles around the area. These are likely the ones causing an imbalance and tension in your body. By focusing your rolling a few inches away from the pain source, you’ll help muscles relax and repair, rather than causing more pain and swelling.
2. Go slowly. You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax in order to get the maximum benefit of foam rolling. Find an area of tension that allows you to feel the pressure at about a level of eight, on a scale of one-to-10.
Shift into this pressure point and breathe deeply until you settle and the sensation drops to about a four on a sale of one-to-10. Then work down the same muscle by rolling a few inches over from the original point and repeat the process until tension drifts away.
3. Foam roll at least a few times a week. This will reduce stress, improve posture, support those who are pregnant and help prevent injury.
Here are five foam roller suggestions to help you move better, stand taller and live a pain-free life:
- If you’re injured: Just about everyone has experienced low back or knee pain in their lives. What most don’t realize is that this often stems from our supportive hip stabilizers like the piriformis, hip flexors, rectus femoris, or the quadratun lumborum (QL). By releasing these small, but impactful muscles, you’ll feel a huge relief and increased mobility in the lower back and knees.
- To relieve the body of stress: Foam rolling is a great way to proactively work stress out of the body. It allows you to access hard to reach spots like the shoulders and hips, where many people carry their tension. View your time spent foam rolling as physical meditation. Focus on relaxing the body, deepen your breath and unwind muscular tension.
- To have a leaner body: Everyone wants a lean body, right? Well, the secret is foam rolling. Think of foam rolling as a tool to iron out your muscles, allowing them to lengthen to their full potential. The foam roller is an underused exercise tool to help everyone get there. Foam rolling also corrects posture! Since you must maintain a strong, upright posture for many rolling positions, you are strengthening your postural and core muscles, thus improving your lean physique.
- For the athlete: If you’re exercising more than two times per week, then foam rolling should be an integral part of your pre and post workout routine. Maximize your potential by activating key muscle groups before you exercise. Before you embark on a big cardio workout (i.e. running, swimming, cycling, hiking, etc.), use the foam roller to prime the major muscle groups. Muscles will get more oxygen and be able to work faster and harder.
- If you’re pregnant: Sure, pregnancy comes with lots of excitement, but it also comes with back pain and achy feet. Or so I hear, as I wouldn’t know from experience haha. Foam rolling, when done gently, can help relieve pressure in the low back and help improve blood flow to the legs. Be sure to use a soft foam roller and to keep pressure light.
If you’re a visual person like me, you probably want some examples eh? Check out Tony Horton’s foam rolling video.
Now go get your roll on!