Foam rollers are very fashionable today. Locations like Goal and Walmart carry them. Grandmas and grandpas are foam rolling. Docs are prescribing them. What started as a distinct segment mobility software used solely by probably the most obscure health nerds has grow to be commonplace. However if you wish to get probably the most worth out of your foam curler—and keep away from doing any injury—you’ll want to discover ways to use it appropriately. It’s not so simple as “rolling” on it. There’s an artwork to it. And a science.
However earlier than we get into easy methods to use a foam curler, let’s go over what a foam curler is definitely doing (and never doing).
What Foam Rolling Does (and Doesn’t) Do
Foam rolling isn’t bodily breaking apart knots or muscle adhesions.
Foam rolling can also be not lengthening the tissue such as you’re rolling out a slab of dough. Analysis exhibits that foam rolling doesn’t bodily stretch or lengthen the muscle.
As a substitute, foam rolling appears to calm down the nervous system. It really works by way of neuromuscular connections quite than brute drive bodily modification. After foam rolling an space whereas transferring that tissue, your nervous system has decided that that is the correct, protected vary of movement for you. Foam rolling offers you a brief alternative to determine a brand new “protected” sample. Moderately than bodily adhesions, it’s eradicating neuromuscular blocks and dangerous patterns. You reset the system and reprogram it, or go away it open to reprogramming with higher motion.
Foam rolling may additionally works by way of one thing known as diffuse noxious inhibitory management, or DNIC. When a tissue hurts, it’s as a result of your nervous system has determined that inhibiting motion in that space (by way of ache) is safer and higher for you than permitting motion by way of that space. However generally, the nervous system decides to blunt the ache as a result of it’s safer and higher so that you can transfer it than stay immobile. Think about a soldier taking a giant wound in battle. He’s grievously wounded, however excessive ache would solely forestall him from making it to security. The nervous system blunts the ache so he could make it again alive. The froth curler could also be doing one thing related.
Tips on how to Use a Foam Curler
Chill out into the curler; don’t tense up.
This may be robust to drag off as a result of by its very nature, foam rolling is uncomfortable. Painful, even. However right here’s what occurs while you tense up: your physique fights the therapeutic impact the froth curler is meant to have on you.
You need to have the ability to breathe simply and usually. Should you’re holding your breath, that signifies a stress response. You’re most likely going too laborious or being too tense.
Don’t grimace. Don’t grit your tooth. Attempt to smile, or at the least preserve a impartial facial features. Any outward expression of ache and discomfort will register together with your nervous system. What you’re attempting to do right here is reassure your physique which you could deal with the ache, that the ache isn’t all that dangerous, and the tissue can begin feeling higher.
Keep at a spot till it stops hurting.
Should you’re dashing by way of your foam rolling session, skipping over areas as a result of they “damage an excessive amount of,” you’re lacking the purpose. As a substitute of avoiding the ache, you’ll want to search out and sit with the ache. When you discover a tender spot, keep there for at the least a minute or till the ache subsides.
Discover vary of movement whereas sitting on a young spot.
If you roll your quads and discover a tight, tender spot, keep on that spot after which prolong and flex your knee by way of its full vary of movement. This appears to make foam rolling simpler than when you had been to only keep on the spot with zero motion by way of the knee.
Give attention to one giant space per session.
You’re not going to successfully hit your whole physique in a single session. There’s not sufficient time for that. As a substitute, deal with one giant space— your legs, your glutes, your calves, your hamstrings, your pecs, your thoracic backbone—and do an ideal job there. Be thorough and take your time. You possibly can deal with one other part through the subsequent session.
Don’t foam roll bones.
Bones shouldn’t be foam rolled. It doesn’t assist. It’s completely pointless. Foam rolling is meant for smooth tissue software solely.
Don’t foam roll your backbone.
You possibly can and may foam roll the lumbar muscular tissues operating on both aspect of your backbone, however you shouldn’t roll the precise spinal column itself. As a bone, it doesn’t reply properly to foam rolling, and it could possibly really irritate and damage you.
Don’t foam roll the location of the ache; foam roll the tissues round it.
In case your knee hurts, foam rolling the knee itself most likely gained’t assist. In case your calves damage, foam rolling the calves isn’t the reply.
It is advisable go above and under the affected tissue. Maintain rolling the tissues across the painful space, working your means above and under till you discover the tender spot.
Use a lacrosse ball (or two taped collectively) for tougher to succeed in areas.
The froth curler doesn’t work as properly on each muscle or tissue. Hamstrings, the TFL, the pecs, and particular factors within the thoracic backbone appear to reply significantly better to lacrosse balls. They provide extra direct, focused stress and might actually get deep in there.
Foam roll earlier than exercises to extend vary of movement.
Foam rolling earlier than your exercise is higher for vary of movement and efficiency, particularly when you reap the benefits of the open “motion window” and transfer. Foam roll, do some mobility drills to reap the benefits of the window, then get to coaching.
Foam roll after exercises to cut back muscle soreness and enhance efficiency.
Research present that foam rolling after coaching reduces subsequent muscle soreness and maintains efficiency (the place it might in any other case endure). I can see foam rolling being very efficient for athletes who must rapidly get again into coaching after a exercise or competitors.
However total, when you maintain all these ideas in thoughts, foam rolling is fairly straightforward to do and really versatile. Glad rolling!