As we get older, our over worked muscles don’t recover as fast as they used to, and in particular the elasticity and connective tissues don’t bounce back as fast either, leading us to experience muscle aches, joint pain, and musculoskeletal injury. So, it’s important to deal with tight muscles as they come up.
A great way to combat that is to use a foam roller to “roll” out the knots and kinks on the muscle. When you “foam roll”, you are essentially releasing the myofascial tissue and bringing blood flow to the area, along with the nutrients and oxygen required for faster repair!
In order to get the most benefit out of foam rolling, keep in mind the following tips:
1. Go easy and go slow!
A tight knot can sure hurt if given too much pressure and if you roll over it too fast! As well, your muscles need enough time to catch up to what your brain is asking them to do, which is to unwind and relax as you begin to roll, so go slow and go light!
If, for example, the outside of your leg (IT Band) is tight, you want to gingerly sit on that area on top of the roller with half your bodyweight as you first start out, then slowly roll over that area from above the knee to just below your hip, avoiding the joints. Once you begin to feel a little relief, you can increase the pressure by slightly increasing your bodyweight on to the roller and continue to slowly roll over the area a few more times until you feel the tension subside.
Let your body be your guide—if it hurts too much, lessen the pressure!
2. Foam roll at least twice a week!
Not unlike stretching, foam rolling is good for increasing mobility, it elongates and lengthens the muscle, and it’s the less expensive version of getting a message the DIY way, bringing relief to stressed muscles and connective tissues for overall relaxation!
3. Don’t roll over a freshly injured area!
This will increase inflammation, and that’s exactly what you want to avoid as you heal from an injury. Treat a minor injury with R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and wait until you’re healed before you foam roll.
4. Never foam roll your lumbar spine!
The low back is a fragile area and rolling over that area could cause the muscles to tighten up, making it even worse. Focus more on the muscles below the lumbar area and just above the bottom of the rib cage area—the buttocks, thighs, and calves, (and even the soles of the feet), and the muscles of the mid back and shoulder area.
5. Purchase a foam roller from a reputable retailer specializing in fitness equipment.
There are many foam rollers on the market for different uses with different levels of firmness and different length sizes. Some are porous and soft, while others are dense and firm. Choose the one that best suits your needs along with an instructional booklet as to how to best use it, so that you can reap the maximum benefit from rolling!
Rock and foam roll away!