They say there's a fine line between pleasure and pain and I'd have to say my favorite girl and I walk that line all too often. She's there and ready to go every morning when I roll out of bed.....and she never holds back. I make it home from a day of training and work and there she is....waiting anxiously for me just how I left her. Sometimes people look at me funny when we do it in the gym but I know they just don't understand. My name is Joe and I am in love with my foam roller.
For those who aren't familiar with myofascial release or "foam rolling" you could be under performing and just don't know what you are missing out on. I have had an intimate relationship with my foam roller for a long time now and I don't plan on looking back.
My mobility, recovery, muscle tension, and strength have all improved as a byproduct of my focus on tissue quality. For years my only focus was on strength training and the intensity of my workouts and I can speak to all of the ways in which my body has paid for it. Putting my anecdotal rants aside, myofascial release is well supported in the research world for enhancing muscle performance, pain free movement, and exercise recovery. Think of it as giving yourself a miniature deep tissue massage.
To give you a shortened explanation as to why I advocate foam rolling and myofascial release it might help to know what "fascia" really is.
Fascia can be used to describe various tissues in the body but we will focus on the fascia that surrounds our muscle fibers. You can think of this essentially as a thin covering that wraps all of the muscles in our body.
Most of you have probably seen that little later of tissue or "film" on a piece of chicken breast from the store, that thin film like layer that you find right around the muscle that isn't quite the skin but you can tell it's not part of the muscle either. Think of THAT as fascia. This fascia is much like ligament and tendon in that it contains closely packed collagen fibers than run about parallel to the line of pull. The wave like alignment allows the fascia to resist relatively high pulling forces that in turn give your body and muscles more structure and force resistance.
When you don't consistently take care of this soft tissue via a sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movements/positions, intense training, or just lack of attention then the fascia develop adhesions, or "knots" as we all know them. This misalignment of the collagen fibers alters the normal wave like alignment and may be painful or cause limitations to a full ROM.
These adhesions can either be an interaction of fascia to fascia or muscle to fascia; either way myofascial release techniques can effectively alleviate associated pain and mobility limitations.
Translation is that you can get better range of motion without really sitting around on the floor stretching (which probably isn't your best method anyways).
Whether you are a trainer, athlete, recreational exerciser, or just want to feel better I urge you to give some of these techniques a try. The ideal scenario may be to go see a good massage therapist or tissue specialist but for those like myself who may not want to spend the money each week or get a massage before and after every workout, I have included some quality links to get you started on buying and using a foam roller.
Then keep scrolling for some idea of how you can start to put it all to use!
The Grid - about $35 on Amazon and is great for beginners
Rumble Roller - while it looks like a medieval torture device and might be, this is a quality roller as well for about the same price.
Vyper (Vibrating Roller) - If you want to take things to the next level with vibration technology then this is ABSOLUTELY the way to go. Click through for info and come into G+O Fitness to pick one up!
Now that you have your roller, check out how to use it in one of our previous blog posts:
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FOAM ROLLING - Part 1
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FOAM ROLLING - Part 2
I could go on and on with information and links but I will leave you to try it out for yourself because the best way to learn is through experience and experimentation. You are your own performance lab so get out there, give it a try, and let me know what you think!
Joe Drake is the Co-Captain of the ship at Gravity + Oxygen Fitness as well as self proclaimed Chief of Motivation. When he's not aspiring to Super Dad Status and working with clients at the G+O house you can find him outside with his pup and finding ways to sneak push ups in whenever possible.
Connect with and follow him at @joe_drakefit on IG