3 BIG Foam Rolling Mistakes
During the past decade the use of foam rollers (a form of self-myofascial release or SMR) has emerged as a popular flexibility technique used within the fitness industry. In fact, there are even dedicated foam rolling classes! However, in our experience the majority of people do not fully understand the concept of SMR. This article simply explains what SMR is, what it’s used for and how you use SMR tools effectively.
Mistake #1 - Using The Wrong SMR Tool
There are a variety of tools used for SMR which will have different effects depending on their size and construction. Some are soft and less rigid and affect the outer layers of the fascia (a type of connective tissue that works alongside your muscles), whereas others are harder more rigid tools that increase the pressure on deeper layers of tissue.
Mistake #2 - Not Knowing Why You're Foam Rolling
The idea behind them is they inhibit overactivity of neuro-myofascial tissue - in other words overactive muscles due to dysfunction in the human movement system. Therefore, they should only be used on parts of the body that are overactive and/or are affecting your movement patterns. They’re not merely there as a substitute for a warm-up or to lengthen tight muscles, although they can stimulate blood flow which will aid a warm up. They work particularly well on releasing adhesions found in fascia; these restrictions are part of what can negatively affect your performance, thus leading to a potential injury.
Mistake #3 - Not 'Rolling' Correctly
You may see people in the gym just rolling backwards and forwards over them – they’re not getting the full benefits! Ideally you will apply the pressure on a tight/sore bit using your bodyweight only. Hold on this area for about 20-30 seconds and then roll further up the muscle until you get to another tight spot, and repeat as before. Don’t merely use them in place of the correct stretching you should be doing before exercise. Use them as part of your preparation to get the optimum results!
Here at Peak Performance we utilise the foam rollers as part of the preparatory stage before a training session. We prescribe it to clients on an individual basis. One client may have over-active thigh muscles and hip flexors which will affect their squatting technique, so these will be ‘rolled’, whereas another client may have an over active latissimus dorsi (lats) which is causing excessive forward lean during squatting and lunging. Foam rollers act as inhibitors. They also help prepare the muscle to allow a masseuse to get deeper into the tissue and to prepare a muscle to get a better stretch. If you would like to know more about how foam rolling can benefit you or to find out the best techniques to will help you specifically then contact us!
Here are some common SMR exercises: