We’ve all heard about foam roller & seen the weird looking things at our Pilates studio, Physio, Osteo or Chiro practice but what exactly does it do & how do you use it?
Foam rolling assists the mobility of our fascia. Fascia is a fibrous layer of connective tissue (made up primarily of collagen) beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses & separates muscles & internal organs of the body (think a substance similar to cling wrap)
Fascia is described in layers; superficial fascia, deep fascia & visceral fascia.
With poor mobility, the fibers of the fascia can become crossed & bind to muscles & even nerves that can inhibit normal range of motion, decrease mobility & cause pain & tension.
Foam rolling can assist to restore normal mobility to the fascia therefore releasing tense muscles or trapped nerves & increase the blood flow to the muscle area.
There are many schools of thought as to the best time to do foam rolling with not one clear definite answer but most sports specialists recommend dynamic stretching to warm up the muscles & prevent injury prior to activity at the beginning of a class or work out & foam rolling at the end of your work out to assist with recovery & release fascia tension. Personally I love to enjoy a good foam roll each night to help with waking up feeling good the following day,
Try these foam rolling stretches after your class or work out to reap the rewards of increased mobility & less pain.
ITB Stretch: Start with right hip on top of foam roller and use your hands to pull you over roller down to just above knee. Repeat x 10 rounds. Repeat on left side.
Quadriceps Stretch: Role over onto front of body and place both hands in line with shoulders on the floor. Use your arms to roll from hips all the way to top of nights and back up again. Repeat x 10 rounds. If it feels nice to linger a little longer down around your knee and sway from side to side do this if comfortable.
Back Stretch: Turn around & begin sitting on the foam roller with 2 hands behind you on the floor or over your chest. Simply walk your feet forward as you lay back on the roller to massage out over side of the spine.
Linger where it feels nice. Repeat x 10 rounds of forward & back.
Upper Thoracic Opener:
Start with your bottom seated on the ground & the roller placed directly underneath the shoulder blades. Take your arms out wide to allow the chest to also open. Slowly ease back over the roller to where it feels comfortable. Hold for 6-10 breaths. Note: For extra support for your neck, you may like to place a cushion/s to allow your head to rest.