Do you ever feel stress or tension in your body after a long day of work, commuting, kids, or sitting in class? How about the muscle soreness that makes us walk funny after a killer workout? Ouch! (Feels so good, yet so bad?!) Better yet, with that first day of Spring in just a few short weeks, I know plenty of people who will come out of hibernation to groom their lawns and get things ready around their homes for the sunny days ahead. With that I can always count on people commenting on the soreness they experience after a day of raking, pulling, and dumping! Let’s just call that Spring Training!
Though going to relax and work out all of this muscle soreness with a masseuse is highly beneficial and very healthy for the body and mind, it can also come with a price tag and could prove difficult to keep up with for optimal myofascial release. Something that I highly recommend to every person, no matter their fitness level or current workout regimen, is foam rolling. It can be done in the comfort of your own home as often as needed. It also costs a fraction of the price to purchase in comparison to a weekly massage.Foam rolling does more that aid in a good stretching, though it does do that too! Foam rolling helps to perform myofascial release.
myo = muscle, fascia = connective tissue
The first couple of times you perform the rolling you may experience quite a bit of pain. This is because you are breaking up trigger points, or muscles knots. Why do we even get these knots? We are active! If you are moving, working, and carrying stress in the body for any reason, our fascia sticks together. If our fascia sticks together, we experience limited flexibility and movement, soreness, and pain. Again, by breaking up our knots/adhesions in the connective tissue we can lengthen our muscles and increase blood flow to sooth those tight areas of tissue. That is why when you complete the exercises you say, Ahhh 🙂 – despite the initial pain you may feel while rolling out some of your muscles tension!
Foam rollers come in many different shapes, sizes, and densities to fit the vast needs of the individuals out there.
I can recommend a couple of my favorites!
Spri Tiger Tail (I love these Tiger Tails for traveling. I never leave home without one!)
The Grid (This is a very interesting new way of foam rolling! The Grid is designed to work like human hands on the body; emphasizing the effects of deep tissue massage. Please check out this article from The Grid’s Blog to learn more!)
How to Fix The IT Band (iliotibial band)
Here a few great starter exercises that are part of my own routine for you to try with your new foam roller!
Tip: I keep mine in the living room so I can try to remember to do my stretching.
Gently roll out from one insertion point of the muscle to the other. Use your body weight to provide pressure and breathe.
2. IT Band (This one gets me every time!)
Roll along the side of the quadricep stopping just above the top of the knee. Roll back up. Perform slowly and continue to breathe. (As we experience pain or anything uncomfortable we often hold our breath. Not breathing will also cause our muscles to tense up:)
3. Hip and Glute Stretch
Sit on your foam roller and lean slightly to one side to use a supporting hand behind the roller. Bend knees and place feet flat on the floor. Take one knee up and cross that ankle over the opposite knee. Slightly move forward and back over the tight areas of the glute and hamstring.
Lay in a prone position, similar to a plank pose with weight evenly distributed on the roller at the top of the thighs near the lower abdomen/below the hips. Roll all the way down to just above the knees. Breathing…
“Pay for your health now, or pay for deductibles later!” I encourage you to make the investment in a roller, and make the time investment of carving out a few minutes to care for you body in this way!
“Foam Roller Exercises for the Hips.” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
“Myofascial Release.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 June 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.