Muscle Sport Magazine

How Does Foam Rolling Actually Help?

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Foam rolling really does hurt a little, we are sure you would agree? We know that trainers and our personal trainers specifically, immediately recommend using a foam roller, whenever we are feeling sore and a little under the weather from pain. However, rolling your pain away actually is a thing that works and believe it or not, the pain is an actual reason to believe it is working on your tight muscles! After you get over the hurt and want to cry a bit, you will sleep a little better that night, so it is always about not giving up!


Even all those athletes that we see across the TV screens, the biggest betting houses like, all of the athletes keep up their best form and physique by upholding the foam rolling practices. Suppose you have stopped and wondered what it actually does to your muscles in the process of you doing it and how that works in a long-term perspective. 


So, to know exactly what is going on scientifically to your body, we have collated the information from journals and the world experts on the matter, to try and make things as simplistic and understandable as possible. This should definitely go down a treat for yourself, as who does not like learning new things-especially when getting your fitness game on.


Faster recovery, warming up and down of your muscles 

So, when you actually roll, the movement on your muscles warms the area up and allows blood circulation to be far more efficient. When you finish training, you will find all the blood rushes to the areas where you have worked the most, as a part of an anti-inflammatory response. Foam rolling will counteract that and basically make it hurt less afterwards. It hurts at the beginning but as you continue rolling, you improve the circulation through the massaging procedure.


A study was created where there was a total of 16 people from the University of Stirling in 2018, trying foam rolling in search of the physiological benefits. All the individuals that took park, found that they actually felt less fatigued within the next days to come. Further studies from the Journal of Athletic Training, explained what we pretty much summarised above. Foam roaming actually prevents the onset of muscle soreness due to blood regulation. This in turn actually improved the individual’s workouts later on within the weeks to come. Many times, athletes will not progress as they had hoped with their fitness due to the very reason that offset muscle soreness brings. So, this is a quick and easy solution to provide you the recovery that you deserve, want and need.


Foam rolling also increases individual’s flexibility, and it makes sense. If you have sore and tight muscles, you will be unable to stretch and really lengthen the movement of your muscles. So again, this really does provide advantages to future workouts, as we all know when muscles are tight, injuries are far more likely in the process of your training. Research in regard to this particular section of benefits are still continuously being researched and therefore very much still continuously shedding light on the matter.


There are many theories to how foam rolling actually works (expanding on what we summarised)


The leading theory goes by the term ‘fascia’ or myofascial release. The question is, what is it and why would you want to release it? Well, Fascia is something that surrounds your muscles (in layers) to provide your tendons shape and momentum. Ever seen that layer that is above the muscle of a chicken breast for example? That is exactly what we are talking about. This is needed to help your muscles do compound movements such as pulling, pushing and squatting.


Whenever you exercise it can cause the fibres of the fascia to get all rigid and less smoothly pliable. This then gives an onset of pain, when it’s for longer periods of time, again affecting the flow of blood which goes in and out of your muscles. If you encourage a Myofascial release of tension, this will ultimately prevent the rigidity of these fibres and allow movement to occur more freely and easily. How do you do that? Muscle foam rolling is the one.


The movement of you rolling will also apply heat to the areas of pain. Heat affects surface area and thermodynamic reactions, as we know from high school chemistry, right? This heat will encourage further loosening of the fascia fibres and ultimately you will find that you can pretty much get back out there on the exercise front!

So, why does it actually hurt?

The foam rolling procedure hurts because you will be triggering the pain receptors within the layers of the fascia tissues. Of course, there will already be inflammation there already from the muscle tears and swelling too, so you will feel like you are nudging some sensitive spots as you foam roll progressively.


In addition to this, obviously if somewhere hurts and you touch it in any shape or form, you will be bound to feel some kind of pain. Whenever there is hurt, there are receptors and an inflammatory response involved. That’s pretty much how it goes throughout your entire body. However, at the beginning you will find your body is not used to it at all and it will be a case of getting used to it. The more your practice the more your body will respond to the actions quicker. Of course, as your muscles grow too, the stronger they get and the less likely that you will actually be feeling any onset muscle soreness at all; the foam rolling will then be like a nice applied pressure massage. 


One thing to take notice of though is, if you are a beginner and the pain is really unbearable, build up the time and minutes you spend doing it. As you gradually build, the more your body will get used to it. One week you can start at just a minute per muscle area, the next you can build up to two minutes and more. If you feel like the pain is getting worse and not improving, this could actually be a sign that you really are injured, which will need professional help and looking into.


Roll regularly and your body will love you for it

There are certain muscle groups that will love you for foam rolling. This includes your glutes (especially after a heavy hip thrusting session), quads, hamstrings and calves. Of course, you can try out the other muscle groups too, however training professionals actually advise individuals to hold off on foam rolling your back. The reason for this is, it can actually cause your back to spasm and go in an overload of pain-which is definitely not any good! Try and avoid joint areas and stick to actual muscle parts of your body.


By practicing rolling daily at just 5 minutes a day, you really could benefit in the long term and reduce your injury vulnerability in the long run. You will soon come to realise how rare it will be to actually feel your muscles being tight and uncooperative. With 10 seconds of rest between 30 second sets, you will not be leaving too long of a time gap in between your sessions and therefore really benefit from a quick and hasty foam rolling session. By dividing your body into segments, your foam rolling should be pretty quick and efficient. Many suggest trying out the bottom, middle and top routine and tackling each depending on the muscle groups you have trained that day. 


Foam rolling is really flexible and can be tweaked and matched to however your body is feeling towards that day. If you are a runner, you will find that lower body segments will be the way to go and therefore you probably never actually pay any particular attention to the rest of your body-which is fine. You will need to make sure to cater your experience to what your body needs and not just to any old routine you may have watched on YouTube for example. Listen to your body, it talks and tells you exactly what you need to do!


One thing that works particularly well with foam rolling, is the incorporation of yoga. Yoga is perfect for making your muscles really feel loved and relaxed. We personally would suggest trying the yoga after the foam rolling, since you would have addressed any possible muscle tightening and spasms prior to doing those downward dogs!

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