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The truth about foam rolling!



You probably have heard or read already several times about foam rolling or even seen people using it. Although the science behind foam rolling is still in its infancy, some useful outcomes of research start to appear. At least for athletes who want to feel better and run stronger. Foam rolling will not cause miracles, however in addition to high quality training, enough sleep, paying attention to recovery and eating well before, during and after training, it might make you a better athlete!



DOES FOAM ROLLING REALLY WORK?


1. General affect of foam rolling on athletic performance

Many studies have looked into the effect of foam rolling and athletic performance. One study concluded that foam rolling hindered athletic performance. All other studies found no effect or a positive effect on performance. This indicates that foam rolling will not influence your performance in a negative way.


2. Foam rolling before training

Using a foam roller before a run does not per se improves your athletic performance, however it can act as a dynamic warm-up, increasing blood circulation, getting your body ready to move. Plenty of studies explored the effect of foam rolling on short-term flexibility. Spending 5 - 10 minutes foam rolling prior to your workout increases blood flow, allowing the connective tissue fibers to slide more freely, thus preventing some of the movement compensations that could be occurring. Pre-training foam rolling helps your muscles to produce the greatest amount of force with the least amount of energy cost during exercise. This results in optimal performance, decreased injury and quicker recovery.

The general conclusion is that foam rolling before a workout, as part of your warm-up can be beneficial because it increases the ROM at the joint a muscle crosses (for example foam rolling your thigh muscles increases ROM of the knee). Foam rolling followed by static stretching was the most effective at increasing hip ROM.


3. Foam rolling after training.

After a training, foam rolling can act like a sports massage. Post-training foam rolling is more of a therapeutic approach than pre-training rolling. In this case it's used more as a total body flushing method to help promote circulation of metabolic wastes. This will accelerate the recovery process and restore the muscles and tissue. Most studies investigating whether foam rolling after exercise reduces symptoms of delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) and discovered that it does. Based on the findings it is suggested that 20 minutes of foam rolling at hips and legs for 3 days after a leg training session can reduce DOMS pain.



HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOAM ROLLER?

Today a lot of different types of foam rollers exist, which is great because we like to be able to choose, however it can be overwhelming and make it difficult to choose the right one. When shopping for a foam roller you can consider the following features.


Density - If you're new to foam rolling, it might seem as torture device in certain cases. Putting pressure on sore muscles after an intense training might seem like mistreatment of the muscles which worked hard. It will take time for your body to get used to it. This is why firmness of a foam roller influences the amount of 'oh-so-good' pain you are willing to handle. Hollow rollers, compared to solid ones, are more rigid, address the deeper muscle tissue and keep their original shape even after years of use.


Pattern - The pattern or texture of your foam roller determines the intensity level. Foam rollers exist with a 100% smooth surface (more gentle) and with very spiky (more intense) surfaces.


Move-ability - If you want to take your foam roller with you to the gym or whilst travelling you might look out for a size which fits your sports bag or suitcase


Vibe - For additional muscle activation, many foam rollers are adding vibration. Vibration stimulates the blood and oxygen flow towards the muscles and helps reducing DOMS


We chose to buy the the trigger point GRID Foam Roller. It has a three-dimensional surface from smooth to spiky. It is hard with a hollow core which ensures that it's shape maintains over the years. It's available in different sizes including a compact and travel friendly size and because we like to do everything we do in-style, we love the fact that this foam roller comes in different colours.


HOW TO USE YOUR FOAM ROLLER?

A foam roller can be used in many ways, depending on which part of your body you want to impact. The act of foam rolling involves using body weight pressure across your foam roller in an effort tot change the tissue


Calf



  • Sit on the floor, the foam roller underneath the upper part of the ankles

  • Move your opposite leg on top of your leg on the leg on the foam roller

  • Lift your hips of the floor and move your body towards the roller up to the knee

  • Move back and forward

  • Whenever you find a tender spot, stop and hold for 20 seconds, roll slightly back & forward to stimulate blood flow and rotate slightly left and right (internally & externally)

  • Repeat

Quads



  • Place the foam roller on the floor, face the floor with the foam roller right above your knees on the quads

  • Move backward so that the roller moves towards your hips

  • Whenever you find a tender spot, stop and hold for 20 seconds, roll slightly back & forward to stimulate blood flow and rotate slightly left and right (internally & externally)

  • Repeat

IT Band



  • Lie on your side with the foam roller resting just up from the knee on the side of your leg

  • Move sidewards so that the foam roller moves towards your hip

  • Whenever you find a tender spot, stop and hold for 20 seconds, roll slightly back & forward to stimulate blood flow and rotate slightly left and right (internally & externally)

  • Repeat


Glutes



  • Sit on the roller so that the roller is underneath your but

  • Bring your ankle on your opposite knee

  • Use your arms to support yourself behind the roller

  • Move your foam roller up and down and side to side

  • Whenever you find a tender spot, stop and hold for 20 seconds, roll slightly back & forward to stimulate blood flow and rotate slightly left and right (internally & externally)

  • Repeat


REFERENCES

Beardsley, C. and Škarabot, J., 2015. Effects of self-myofascial release: A systematic review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, [online] 19(4), pp.747–758.

Janot, J.M., Malin, B., Cook, R., Hagenbucher, J., Draeger, A., Jordan, M., Van Guilder, G., 2013. Effects of self myofascial release & static stretching on anaerobic power output. J. Fit. Res. 2, pp. 41-54.

Cheatham, S.W., Kolber, M.J., Cain, M. and Lee, M., 2015. The effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), pp.827–838.

Schleip, R., 2003. Fascial plasticity–a new neurobiological explanation: Part 1. Journal of Bodywork and movement therapies, 7(1), pp.11-19.





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