Massage therapy is a necessary part of recovery and adaptation, but it can make a massive dent in the hip pocket. If you want an easy, cheap, and effective way to relieve the aches and pains that are slowly building up against your body, look no further than your own long, round and hard piece of foam.
What is it?
Foam Rolling is the most cost effective way to get relief from muscle aches and pains. All you need is a piece of foam (most gyms will have a few lying around), and some pain tolerance! If you aren’t doing it already in your routine, then you should start, right now. You will see and feel the benefits immediately.
Benefits of using a foam roller for massage:
- Massage at your convenience
- Target all your sore points; release your trigger points
- Increase range of motion
- Decrease soreness and pains
- Increase training efficiency
- Fix postural problems
- Recover faster
How It Works
Foam Rolling is so effective because it gives you a deep tissue massage and most importantly self-myofascial release. Sure, it is not as effective as the hands on approach to massage, hands can do wonderful things and will find and access spots easier, however you can do this anywhere, anytime…good luck getting your partner to do trigger points on you everyday!
OK that’s all well and good, but what in the world in self myofascial release? Well, it works via the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) in the muscle tendon area. When you increase the pressure/ tension to the point where the muscle is at risk of injury, the GTO responds by relaxing the muscle. This is called autogenic inhibition. So by stimulating the GTO, we are able to cause relaxation of the muscle and consequently the fascia surrounding it. Thereby getting the stretch and range of motion we are after. Simple eh.
When and How?
As much as you want, when you want, on anywhere that is sore. Yep, it is that simple. If you could get a massage everyday I bet you would? In all seriousness though, you can do it before or after a workout. I think after is better, aids recovering and relaxes sore muscles. But it is a very good idea to do your extra tight areas in order to find some range of motion pre-workout. You can also do it at home, or whenever you want, in fact, you really can’t do too much. Especially in the case of acute soreness.
If you have postural problems, try to focus on loosening the problem areas. For example, if you have rounded shoulders, do a little more work through your pecs. If you have a very lordotic stance (i.e. your butt sticks out, usually due to very tight hip flexors and can result in back pain), then do some work through your hip flexors.
Here are some tips for foam rolling:
- Concentrate on sore and tight areas, or where you need better range of motion
- Roll the full length of the muscle
- Roll on each muscle a few times; you will feel it loosening immediately.
- Go slowly, it will hurt more, but you will get more benefit
- Stop on the sore points (trigger points) and hold until the pain fades, but be sure to run the full length of the muscle
- Pre Workout focus on getting through the full length of the muscle, spend less time on each
- Post workout, focus on the trigger point aspect and spend a lot of time on each muscle
- Try not to roll over joints, especially the hip. You have structures in there that won’t appreciate it so much
- Do it often. More often if you are sore. Keep on rolling. Don’t stop.
Some Painful Exercises
Luckily I have a wonderful ebook specifically related to this topic. The Ultimate Self Massage Book will show you how to foam roll and use a tennis ball from your feet to your neck. Just $19, and you can get rid of a lot of your muscle and joint pain. Check it out.
Remember, recovery is very important. Without recovery, you won’t get the benefits you want from your workout. You will get a more efficient workout with better range, less tightness, and less pain.
Guys, it will hurt. Especially if you are exceptionally tight or sore in an area, but that’s ok…a deep tissue massage hurts too! Remember, this isn’t going to fix your problems overnight. You will feel immediate benefits, but for long term benefits, integrate it into your workout routine. In cases of acute pain, don’t stop rolling! This is the easiest, most cost effective way to pain relief and a longer lasting, more efficient and healthier body.
If you like this post and suffer from muscle and joint pain, then you need to check out the Ultimate Self Massage Guide. It details exactly how to release all the important muscles in your body with a tennis ball and foam roller. This knowledge will enable you to treat your own pain at home, get rid of your symptoms without spending money on a therapist, and move and feel better.