Foam Rollers (Myofascial Release)
Sports massage and rehab can become costly and time consuming for many athletes, so the question becomes: "How to make the benefits of a sports massage available to athletes at a reasonable cost and easily accessible?"
In many cases, foam rollers offer much of the same benefit as a sports massage. Foam rolling can be utilized by athletes of all sports, ages, and genders as a low cost way of staying healthy and injury-free. It is a great way for athletes at all levels to be able to experience some form of soft tissue care on a daily basis.
The hands on approach of massage, Active Release Therapy (ART), Graston Technique, etc would be preferred when dealing with re-occurring soft tissue problems, however foam rolling can be a great alternative and something that can be done daily by every level of athlete as a form of maintenance and injury prevention (pre-history)
The foam roller not only stretches muscles and tendons but it also breaks down soft tissue adhesion's and scar tissue. By using your own body weight and a cylindrical foam roller, you can perform a self-massage or myofascial release, break up trigger points, and soothe tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.
How it works:
-The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system.
-For various reasons including disuse, not enough stretching, or injury, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion (or trigger point) and it results in restricted muscle movement. It also causes pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.
-Myofascial release is a technique which uses gentle, continual pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.
Tips For Using Foam Rollers:
-Perform foam rolling at the beginning of your activity, exercise routine or sport. It provides a warm up for the muscles prior to starting movement.
-Perform foam roller sessions when your muscles are warm or after a workout to aid in stretching and relaxing.
-Position the roller under the soft tissue area you want to release or loosen.
-Gently roll your body weight back and forth across the roller while targeting the affected muscle.
-Move slowly and work from the center of the body out toward your extremities.
-If you find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
-Focus on areas that are tight or have reduced range of motion.
-Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
-Stay on soft tissue and avoid rolling directly over bone or joints.