Focus on Fitness: The benefits of foam rolling |

Focus on Fitness: The benefits of foam rolling

A foam roller comes in various shapes and sizes. It usually looks like a circular foam tube. Foam rollers can be seen in short and long lengths, and they can be smooth or have divots. Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that releases sore or tight trigger points.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, foam rolling, also known as Self-Myofascial Release, helps deliver improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles and pain reduction within just minutes of application.

Foam rolling should be done before and after a workout and before static or dynamic stretching. It is mostly effective on “overactive” muscles. Overactive muscles are those that are shortened and tight. These are muscles that need lengthening through an optimal program that includes foam rolling and proper stretching.

Using a foam roller on a regular basis can help eliminate future muscle imbalances that could lead to injury and can help “re-train” muscles to execute properly post-injury.

Here are some tips for using a foam roller:

• Slowly roll the selected area until you find a “tender/sore” spot.

• Once you find the “tender/sore” spot, stop and pause on that spot for 30 to 90 seconds until you begin to feel some relief.

• Foam rolling is similar to a “self” deep tissue massage. When you find a sore spot, it might take your breath away for just a moment. Try to relax and breathe through it until the tightness subsides.

• Focus on maintaining your core stability while foam rolling.

• Begin with a smooth foam roller until you have worked up a tolerance to foam rolling.

• Do not foam roll over joints, under the knee or on the lumbar spine.

• Common overactive muscles that benefit from foam rolling are your calves, TFL (tensor fascia latae), glutes, quadriceps, lats, adductors (inner thigh) and the thoracic spine.

• Avoid foam rolling if you have osteoporosis or are on heart medication.

Karen Cuevas is a member of the Fitness Team at Old Town Hot Springs. She is an NASM certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and corrective exercise specialist.

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