Introduction to Foam Rolling
The first time I was exposed to this newly-introduced concept of rolling on a piece of foam was during my initial visit to Cornell University. As I entered the hockey dressing room for the first time, I watched Sean Collins, now a member of the Washington Capitals Organization in the National Hockey League, effortlessly rolling out on this black, rounded piece of foam.
Subsequently, Ed Kelly, the athletic trainer of Cornell University Men’s Ice Hockey informed me that self-myofascial release was a technique used by athletes and therapists to release muscle soreness or trigger points. Now, as a result of recent scientific information, new technology, and feasible products, foam rolling has become a fundamental recovery apparatus for people of all levels of fitness.
At first, I was rather skeptical. To be completely honest, I just didn’t see the point of it. I figured rolling on a piece of foam was a complete waste of my time and it would have zero influence on my athletic performance. This didn’t stop me from slowly introducing foam rolling into my routine for the next four years, but I never truly understood the science behind it. It wasn’t until I truly decided to invest in my short- and long-term health that I noticed the payout of foam rolling.
“Foam rolling smooths and lengthens your muscles, and breaks up adhesions and scar tissue.”
– Joe Hashey, C.S.C.C.
Why Foam Roll?
First of all, we all accumulate tight muscles and trigger points, which are hyperirritable spots in the fascia (fibrous tissue) surrounding skeletal muscle. They can be caused by various factors such as exercise, mobility, flexibility, movement patterns, posture, nutrition, sleep, stress, hydration, and lifestyle routines.
Trigger points keep the muscle tight and weak restricting range of motion. Furthermore, foam rolling can be used to help release trigger points and adhesions (knots) accrued in the body. I like to refer to foam rolling as a free massage that I can enjoy anywhere at anytime!
9 Benefits of Foam Rolling
(1) Saves you money on massage therapy
(2) Increases muscle flexibility and mobility
(3) Increases blood flow to muscles
(4) Prevents injuries
(5) Helps you recover quicker
(6) Removes lactic acid to aid recovery
(7) Helps to alleviate muscle soreness
(8) Releases trigger points, adhesions, and knots
(9) Breaks up scar tissue
Quick Tips About Foam Rolling
Before you invest in a foam roller and start to relish in all the benefits, I recommend reading some quick tips below for some information regarding proper and safe rolling:
Please do NOT be too aggressive; Apply reasonable pressure.
A few passes over each of the major muscle groups should suffice.
Caution! Foam rolling can be very painful. Therefore, roll slowly with a moderate amount of pressure (weight) on the foam roller (use your hand and legs as props).
Never roll directly on a joint or bone.
Focus on relaxing and breathing deeply.
Be extremely careful when rolling the neck region. If necessary, consult with a medical professional as this area can require specialized attention.