You’re New Best Friend
I know it’s just a piece of foam, not a lot to it. However, this thing is AWSOME for muscle release. It’s pretty much self massages, compresses muscles, breaks up adhesions and causes all sorts of self-inflicted pain. The use of the foam roller is called Self Myofascial Release (SMR), instead of a massage therapist applying pressure to your muscles, you use your body weight on top of the foam roller.
How to best use the foam roller is to make sure to stop on tender spots and work those tender areas longer. When foam rolling the body’s first reaction is to contract the muscle in the area pain is felt. So when you find the “sweet spot” make sure to consciously think about relaxing into it and see if you can melt into the foam roller before moving on to the next area.
Foam rolling should be incorporated into your stretching routine. Regardless of what sports and activities you do, you should always stretch and add 10-15 min. of foam rolling.
What’s the difference between foam rolling and stretching? And why do both?
First here is a video of muscle anatomy
Alright now we have some anatomical terms we can use to describe the muscle. A part o the muscle called the sarcomere contains thick and thin myofilaments. When a muscle contracts the thick and thin myofilaments overlap in the muscle and with stretching this area of overlap decreases, allowing the muscle fiber to elongate. Once the muscle fiber is at its maximum resting length all the sarcomeres are fully stretched. In addition stretching places force on the surrounding connective tissue. So stretching pulls the sarcomere to its full length and then connective tissue takes up the remaining slack. The benefit to stretching helps realign any disorganized fibers by applying tension (stretching the muscle). This realignment is what helps to rehabilitate scarred tissue back to health.
Foam rolling is applying force to the muscles at various points along the muscle (where the foam roller makes contact with the muscle). Both stretching and foam rolling apply tension to the muscle but in different ways. Stretching end to end, foam rolling directly on the muscle. Located at the junction between the muscle and tendon is the Golgi Tendon organ. The Golgi Tendon Organ is responsible for sensing tension and the rate of tension change in a muscle. When the Golgi Tendon Organ senses high or prolonged tension on a specific muscle, it responds by making the muscle spindles relax, releasing the tension and making that area looser and more relaxed. The foam roller is used to apply tension directly to the muscle and stretching applies tension end to end both stimulating the Golgi Tendon Organ allowing the muscle to relax.
I got this from another website: Foam rollers are the poor mans massage therapist.
Here are some videos demonstrating how to use the foam roller: