Why do our muscles sometimes feel tight? Maybe it’s habitual postures during the day, or from an imbalance that causes them to overwork. Maybe it’s from overdoing exercise or forcing the muscle in an attempt to make it stretch. Foam rolling can be a very efficient way to relieve “knots”, or tight bands of muscle.
What do I need?
All you need is the foam roller and you. When shopping for or using a roller, make sure you find the right firmness, especially if you are new to rolling. Individuals who are smaller or sensitive to pressure should start with a lower density (think more ‘squishy’ to the touch). Heavier individuals may need one that is more dense, or firmer.
Common areas that foam rolling can often bring relief: Illiotibial band, hamstrings, quadriceps, upper back and calf muscles. Avoid rolling over the low back and use common sense over sensitive areas.
Foam rolling can be performed before or after exercise, and may augment the benefits of stretching. Athletes and weightlifters often benefit from using a foam roller to help resolve post-exercise muscle soreness.
Foam rolling is a therapeutic technique that works because it can bring blood flow to the area and loosen up muscles in a way that may sometimes be more efficient than stretching.
There are several different foam rolling techniques you can try.
- Roll back and forth over a tight area.
- Keep the roller stationary and applying sustained pressure over a knot or trigger point.
- Use a “pin and stretch” technique where the foam roll stays stationary on a tight area while you actively move a body part through a functional movement pattern.
Although foam rolling is safe for most people, individuals who have issues with decreased bone density or are prone to fractures should consult with their doctor prior to trying a foam roller.