Improving your activity level is great, being active and feeling your body transform and get strong is a great feeling right? But do you ever have those days, or weeks, where your body feels stuck. Your muscles and joints are tight and you feel prone to exercise induced injury, or maybe even get injured? Have you ever stopped to look at how you let yourself recover?
Recovery is the most important aspect of fitness, because without it you will not be able to improved. You either will get injured and be out of the gym, or you will have inhibited range of motion, restricting your chances of improving your lifts.
Exercise trends have hiit and new level of intensity (see what I did there?) and with those levels, your body- your muscles and joints- are placed under higher stressed. And with this higher stress comes a greater demand for recovery. But why?
When you workout you might think that your body is growing and enhancing in those hours in the gym. What actually happens though is that your muscles are physically being broken down from all the stress placed on them. That is how muscles grow- they must be broken apart to be able to repair themselves to a greater level.
Beyond taking rest days so your muscles aren’t placed under stress, there are many other ways to give your muscles some R&R.
One of those ways being myofascial release, more commonly known as foam rolling.
What is Myofascial Release?
The word myofascial means muscle tissue and the connective tissue in and around the fascia (the fibrous tissue that surrounds your muscle). Myofascial pain comes from an injury to the muscle tissue, or from repetitive strain (in this case lifting). This ‘pain’ is from bundled up muscle fibers that are trying to restore back to their resting length.
When you foam roll, you might not realize that you have this ‘Myofascial Pain’ until you sit on your foam roller. During Myofascial Release, the foam roller is doing just that- releasing the Myofascial Pain. The roller is threading out the bundled up muscle fibers the same way a rolling pin rolls out a chunked up block of cookie dough.
Saying foam roller is related to pain is not to scare you away. Think of it as your muscles being as bundled up as a messy pile of string held in your fists. The foam roller will thread it out one fiber at a time until they have returned to their optimal resting position, which then puts them in good place to go through static stretching- getting the most bang for your buck here 😉
Foam rolling hurts so good.
It might hurt, but it is doing so much good. So how do you do it?
I use 2 different mechanisms for my Myofascial Release- a foam roller and a Lacrosse ball. Below are a FEW examples of how to use each, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Foam rollers and Lacross balls are cheap, and the money you put into buying them is a lot better than the money you would spend at the ER because you have an overuse injury. On top of that, your muscles will be at their preferred resting length to recover completely so you can use them to their full ability in the next workout 🙂