Southington CrossFit Blog – Dr. Hawley’s Health Corner
Foam Rolling – What is it and Why is it important?
The amount of exercise and pounding that your body takes during a typical week of CrossFit makes daily and weekly maintenance on your body a necessity. This can include anything from a visit to your local chiropractor, massage therapist or physical therapist but also includes stretching and “self myofacial treatment”. One of the best “self treatments” that you can do is foam rolling. This is a very simple technique and one that can work wonders to not only decrease soreness but also increase range of motion.
The benefits of foam rolling are largely based on the idea of ridding the body of trigger points, adhesions and “fascial” tightness. Fascia is a thin layer of connective tissue that lies on top of the muscles in your body and can become tight with exercise. Once tight your muscles are no longer able to perform at full capacity impacting your 1RM. The main point is that you want to find the sorest spot on the muscle you are rolling and stay on that spot for 15-30 seconds. This causes a compressive force on the “trigger point” then when released causes increased blood flow to the area and ridding the body of that trigger point. This should be done up and down the muscle – but be sure to not spend more than 5 minutes per muscle. If you are doing it right you will be more than happy to stop at 5 minutes! Anything more than this can cause more harm than good.
Foam rolling is best used for the large muscles of the body and we will explain the most popular muscles below:
Upper / Mid / Lower back – Start lying on the foam roller perpendicular to your body just above your hips. From here roll the foam roller up your back towards your shoulders. Go slow – it’s probably going to get really sore around your mid back. Find a spot where it’s sore and stay there for 15-30 seconds and you will feel the muscles relax. Continue as needed.
Gluteus Max. – When you have spent enough time on your back now start working on your glutes. For this position the foam roller underneath one of your butts and lay on that side (somewhere between flat on your back and completely on your side). Again work on the entire muscle and find those sore spots!!
Piriformis – After the glutes are done stay is that position but this time place your foot on top of the other knee. The foot you are placing is the same side that the foam roller is on. Work on the sore spots.
Hamstrings – From here straighten both of your legs and “sit” on the foam roller. Roll from your butt down to just above your knees – again stopping at the sore spots.
IT Band – This will most likely be the least enjoyable part! Lie directly on your side and roll from the top of your hip bones down to just above your knee.
If you run through that series a couple times a week you will be sure to catch many of the trigger points and adhesions that will cause you trouble down the road. In my opinion it is better to run through at any time BUT before a workout. Extensive soft tissue work on muscles has been shown to slightly decrease their maximal strength output. If you want to foam roll before a workout do a less intense and shorter version of the above series.
Everyone should own a foam roller and they are very easy to find. A quick Amazon search will pull up many choices – go for the high density or molded foam roller. These will be a little firmer but will not lose their shape over time. I also prefer the 36” product versus the smaller ones as I think they are a little easier to use.
Happy Foam Rolling!!