Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release (SMR), is based on a hands-on technique therapists have been using for years. It is achieved by applying a low load, long duration dragging force across layers of soft tissue. After a period of time (between 90–120 sec. in most cases) the body will release the tissue and mobility between those sliding surfaces will be restored.
To make these changes on oneself, a foam roller can be used in place of a therapist’s hands. While the foam roller will never completely replace a therapist, it serves as a great daily alternative to help maintain the changes therapy has made.
Get the body moving
The key to replicating this is to have a program of foam rolling. As the body moves across the roller, blood flow can increase and may have an influence on some microscopic fibers between the muscles, skin and other tissue. This is a great way to either prepare the body for movement or to help the body recover.
Why don’t people move well?
This is an interesting question that’s not easily answered. Different theories include the sedentary culture we’ve created, computers, cell phones, stress, nutrition, dehydration, restrictive clothing, even air pollution—it could be a combination of all of these. The human body has 206 bones, more than 300 joints and approximately 650 muscles. This means the body is made to move. The capacity of human movement can be seen in dancers, gymnasts, and many other athletic feats that appear to defy normal limits.
The body is made to move. In fact, when we don’t move the body has a very fitting response—it adapts to what we ask it to do the most. This is one of the principles of specificity. The more one squats the better he gets at squatting), or for a lack of movement, the more one sits, the better he gets at sitting. In both cases the body is trying to be the best it can be for the dominant task. These small changes can become actual structural alterations over time.
The body’s ability will adapt to pressure, it’s called mechanotransduction. This basically means that if someone is sitting all day, every day, week after week, the areas that are compressed will actually grow little fibers around them, similar to scar tissue.
The alarming issue is not from one night, day or week, but from months or years of these patterns. Consider the typical average day:
7:00 a.m.—wake up (was sleeping in the fetal position)
7:02 a.m.—get coffee
7:20 a.m.—sit to eat breakfast
8:00 a.m.—sit to drive to work (average U.S. commute is 60 minutes)
9:00 a.m.—sit at work
12:00 p.m.—sit to eat lunch
1:00 p.m.—sit at work
5:00 p.m.—sit to drive home
7:00 p.m.—sit to eat dinner
8:00 p.m.—sit to watch The Bachelor
11:00 p.m.—go to sleep (in fetal position)
See the recurring pattern? We sit more than anything else.
Foam Rolling as Part of Training
Foam rolling can be a great solution. Foam rolling is a quick, simple and effective mobility work method that can be integrated before and after a personal training session, and typically takes less than five minutes.
Begin by identifying the area to be rolled. Then, apply body weight compression onto the roller. Roll through the muscle slowly, about an inch per second, until a tender spot is found. The spot can be something rated as a 6 to 8 on a pain scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most painful). Once found, hold pressure on the tender spot for 20 to 30 seconds or until the tenderness begins to reduce, then move to the next spot. It is recommended to identify up to two spots in each muscle group. Rolling can be repeated daily and followed with static stretching to help maximize the results.
For more information on getting your body moving, contact Best Fitness in your area.