Foam rolls are very popular nowadays. Places like Target և Walmart carry them. Grandparents roll in foam. Doctors prescribe them. What started out as a mobility exercise tool used only by the most obscure fitness lunatics has become commonplace. But if you want to get the most out of your foam roll և to avoid any damage, you need to learn how to use it properly. It’s not as simple as “rolling” on it. There is art in it. And science.
But before we move on to how to use a foam roller, let’s look at what a foam roller actually does (does not).
What does Foam Rolling do (և not do)?
Foam rolling does not physically break joints or muscle adhesions.
Rolling with foam also does not lengthen the texture like rolling out a baking sheet. Studies show that rolling foam does not physically stretch or lengthen muscles.
Instead, foam rolls seem to calm the nervous system. It works through neural connections, not physical changes in brute force. After the foam rolls over the area as you move the tissue, your nervous system decides that this is the right, safe range of motion for you. Rolling foam gives a short opportunity to create a new “safe” pattern. Instead of physical attachment, it removes nerve blocks ակար harmful patterns. You reset the system, reprogram it, or leave it open to reprogram with better motion.
Foam rolling can also work with something called Scattered harmful braking control, or DNIC. When the tissue hurts, it’s because your nervous system has decided that blocking movement (through pain) in that area is safer և better for you than allowing movement in that area. But sometimes the nervous system decides to ease the pain, because it is safer for you, it is better to move it than to stay still. Consider a soldier who is severely wounded in battle. He is seriously injured, but the extreme pain will only prevent him from reaching a safe place. The nervous system relieves the pain so that it can revive it. Foam rolls can do just that.
How to use a foam cylinder?
Relax in the cylinder; do not strain.
This can be difficult, as it is inconvenient to roll foam. Painful, even. But here is what happens when you are tense. your body is fighting against the healing effect that the foam cylinder is supposed to have on you.
You need to be able to breathe easily և normally. If you hold your breath, it indicates a stress response. You are probably going too hard or too tense.
Do not mumble. Do not grit your teeth. Try to smile or at least maintain a neutral facial expression. Any manifestation of pain or anxiety will be recorded in your nervous system. What you are trying to do here is to calm your body so that you can overcome the pain, that the pain is not so bad, և the tissue can start to feel better.
Stay in place until it stops hurting.
If you rush through the foam spinning around the areas because they ‘hurt too much’, you’re missing the point. Instead of trying to recover, they wallow in their sadness and thus, experience more failure. Once you find a tender spot, stay there for at least a minute or until the pain subsides.
Examine the range of motion while sitting in a gentle position.
When you roll your squares եք find a firm, tender place, stay in that place, then և lengthen և bend your knee in the entire range of motion. This seems to make rolling foam more efficient than if you just stay in place with zero knee movement.
Focus on one large area of each session.
You are not going to effectively hit your whole body in one session. There is not enough time for that. Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as your legs, ankles, calves, thighs, and spine. Do a great job there. Be thorough և take your time. You can focus on another section during the next session.
Do not foam the bones of the rolls.
Bones should not foam. It does not help. It is completely meaningless. Rolling foam is intended for use on soft fabrics only.
Do not foam your spine.
You may: need to roll up the lumbar muscles that flow on either side of your spine, but you should not roll up the actual spine. As a bone, it does not respond well to foam rolling; it can actually irritate and damage you.
Do not foam at the site of pain. the foam rolls the tissues around it.
If your knee hurts, the foam that rolls over your knee will probably not help. If your calves hurt, rolling on the calves is not the solution.
You need to go from top to bottom of the affected tissue. Continue to rotate the tissues around the painful area, working from top to bottom, until you find a fine spot.
Use a lacrosse ball (or two straps together) for harder access.
The foam roller does not work well on every muscle or tissue. Pigs, TFLs, nipples, and specific points on the thoracic spine seem to respond much better to lacrosse balls. They offer more direct, targeted pressure; they can really go deeper there.
Foam roll before Exercises to increase range of motion.
Rolling foam before training is better for movement և performance, especially if you use an open ‘movement window’ վում moving. Roll up foam, do mobility exercises to use the window, then start training.
Foam roll after: Exercises to reduce muscle pain and improve performance.
Studies show that rolling foam after a workout reduces further muscle soreness և Maintains efficiency (where it would otherwise suffer). I find that foam rolling is very effective for athletes who need to get back into training quickly after training or competition.
But in general, if you remember all these concepts, foam rolling is quite easy to do և very versatile. Move happily.
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