Have you ever grabbed a foam roller at the gym because you heard it would be a good idea to use before your workout, only to find that the 10 minutes you planned for warming up was spent lying on a tool that you had no idea how to properly use? Or maybe the same holds true for your post-workout “decompression”? My goal for you today is to teach you a little bit about why a foam roller is beneficial to your overall longevity and performance, as well as help you understand how you can come up with a plan of action next time you grab a foam roller so that your time is well spent and your body will be better off for it!
Foam Rolling is just one tool that can give your body relief and put some “fuel back in the tank” by utilizing what is called self-myofacial release, or SMR. Because we are constantly putting our bodies under stress at work, training, lifestyle habits, dehydration, injury, inflammation, or repetitive activity, eventually our fascia begins to bunch up, experience a buildup of toxins and reduced blood flow and oxygen to certain areas. The SMR technique is designed to help return fascia to its fluid state, by smoothing out those hard knots we feel and allowing muscle fibers to relax, stretch and unwind.
When using a foam roller, one may notice an increase in flexibility, access to greater range of motion, decrease in soreness or muscle pain, relaxation and improved recovery time. With that being said, it is a good idea to foam roll the areas of your body that hold the greatest amount of tension either on a consistent basis, or for that day. A great assessment tool is our joint by joint mobility protocol that we implement on a daily basis, building awareness around how you are feeling and moving at any given time. Use this assessment tool to help make your decisions about where to foam roll based on the amount of time you have.
Before OR After a workout? It depends! There are scientific benefits to using a foam roller pre and post exercise, but ultimately you will also reap the most benefits from foam rolling if you can dedicate other free time, like when watching your favorite show or listening to a podcast, to rolling out areas with tension and a lack or ROM. Basically, in order to see long-term effects it would need to become a part of your daily or weekly routine. The biggest difference between a pre and post-workout foam rolling session is the amount of time spent in any given area. If you are prepping your body for a training session, it would be better to spend 30 seconds - 1 minute rolling out your chosen areas. This is because it has been proven to increase range of motion, blood circulation, and athletic performance, but you don’t want you body to relax so much so that you lose your motivation to exercise. After a training session you can allow yourself a little more time, about 90 seconds or longer, on any one targeted area to help with muscle soreness and to encourage your body to return to its rest and digest state.
Are you interested in a step-by-step foam rolling routine that can you do in the morning, or pre/post-workout? Check out our Hii-Tide platform where our monthly weekly calendar gives your access to optimizing tissue health through foam rolling instructional videos.