Foam Rolling Benefits: Tip of the Day 9-19-22
I recently had a conversation with a yoga instructor who helps male athletes improve their flexibility. She commented on how stiff a lot of young male athletes are. As a mom of a boy athlete, I've been working with my son to improve his range of motion (to help avoid potential injuries). One thing that we've tried that offered quick improvements in his flexibility is foam rolling.
Foam rolling is known as an SMR (self-myofascial release) technique used to break up muscle tightness, relieve soreness & inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion. It can be performed before, during, or after a workout. Studies show that foam rolling can also reduce arterial stiffness and increase the plasma concentration of nitrogen oxide, which in turn would lower blood pressure.
Foam rolling involves using a roller made of dense foam while applying light pressure to massage muscles. There are several kinds of foam rollers. Smooth rollers are typically recommended for beginners. Textured rollers work deeper into muscles to relieve knots and tension. Experts say a shorter roller is more effective for smaller areas like arms and calves. Heads up, foam rolling can feel a little uncomfortable at first. I've grown to appreciate it as a "good hurt".
To start, slowly roll over muscles for 10 seconds. Work your way up to 30 seconds to one minute. When foam rolling your legs, roll out your calves first and then your quads separately, avoiding the knees. Avoid rolling over small joints like your knees, elbows, and ankles. Researchers say foam rolling could cause you to hyperextend or damage those areas.
You should get familiar with foam rolling moves before you jump into it. Check out this link if you're interested in learning more about common foam rolling moves.
Bonus tip: Experts say foam rolling could help relieve tension during pregnancy, but you should get cleared by your doctor first. It's not recommended for pregnant women to lay on their backs to foam roll during late pregnancy. Also, skip rolling out the calves in your third trimester! This can cause premature labor.
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