This is how we (foam) roll

By Stacy Garceau, MS, ATC, LAT
Integrated Rehabilitation Services
Athletic Trainer, East Catholic High School

Running, playing sports or weight lifting will continuously cause your muscles to breakdown and repair. Over time, muscles can become tight when the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds muscle) starts to thicken and contract in order to protect muscle from damage. If the fascia contracts too much, trigger points or tender spots within a muscle can form. This is a problem because your body’s movements will be limited.

Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is becoming a more familiar practice for people of all fitness levels. It involves lying down, with a cylindrical styrofoam roll placed between your body and the ground. By using your body weight, the foam roller is pressed into the muscle group being treated, and then your body is moved back and forth over it; you are essentially “rolling” along the ground. You should roll slowly along the entire length of the muscle in each direction. It is also important to foam roll muscle groups that attach to the area where you are having pain. For example, if your IT band feels tight and is painful, you should foam roll your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calf in addition to the IT band. When you find an area within your muscle that is painful to roll over, you should pause on that spot for 15-30 seconds and try to relax as much as possible. This will help to release the muscle and decrease your overall pain. You should continue to roll out the entire muscle group for at least 2-5 minutes.

The deep compression of foam rolling helps to relax tight muscles and break up adhesions that have formed between muscle layers and their surrounding tissues. Research has shown that foam rolling can increase flexibility both acutely (right after use) and chronically (long term) if used consistently. Foam rollers can also help release painful trigger points, which will increase flexibility, helping to re-establish proper movement patterns within your body. Normal blood flow will be restored to the involved area, which can help the body recover after a tough workout.

For more information regarding an appropriate foam rolling program designed to meet your specific goals, please contact any of our Integrated clinics or visit us at IntegRehab.com.

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