Foam rolling is sometimes known for "hurting so good."
Foam rolling can help your body to achieve myofascial release, the process of separating muscular fibers and re-establishing the integrity of the tissue, therefore allowing the muscles to separate, relax, and become more flexible. It is great to do before a workout to prepare the body. It can lengthen and warm your muscles, which can improve performance. It is also a great idea to foam roll after a workout to help with recovery, increase flexibility, and reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Is Foam Rolling The Best Option?
Sometimes people will use a foam roller because they have heard about it from a friend or they have seen others at the gym using it. Sometimes simply stretching or massaging the area is actually best and will lessen risk of injury.
When done improperly, foam rolling can actually hurt you (and not in a good way).
Foam Rolling Safety
- Address your knots prior to foam rolling. Attempting to use a foam roller on knots can actually just compound and worsen them. You can release the knots with a tennis ball by applying sustained pressure to the area for 1 to 5 minutes or until you feel a release. Try to get the knots out before hitting the roller.
- If you find yourself rolling for more than 20 minutes without relief, you may have a larger problem you need to address. You should only be spending about 30 to 90 seconds on a muscle group. If you still aren't feeling relief, it might be time to see your physician or a reputable massage therapist or physical therapist.
- Make sure you’re using an appropriate roller. One that is too firm or textured can cause bruising or further injury.
- Always stick to rolling your muscles and stay away from your joints. If you have a history of lower back pain or previous injury, avoid that area. When in doubt, stick to your legs, glutes, and middle back and shoulders.
- After foam rolling, allow 24 to 48 hours before focusing on the same area again. As always, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and eat clean. This will help to flush your system and fuel your muscles more effectively.
Like any other recovery method, find what works for you. Be safe with your movements and target locations, and stop if you feel something isn't right.
This article was published in a past edition of the Healthy U @ Work newsletter from Franciscan WorkingWell. Courtesy of Complete Wellness Solutions. WorkingWell is a network of occupational health services and part of Franciscan Health. With locations in Northwest Indiana and Greater Indianapolis, WorkingWell's team of professionals provide high-quality medical care to business and industry, with a primary goal to work closely with employers to ensure employees are “working well.”