Want to increase your range of motion, boost muscle recovery and be less prone to injuries?
Try foam rolling!
Today’s workouts are dominated by high-intensity and physically challenging movements. The rise in popularity of these programs has led to an increase in injuries. Implementation of an improved stretching regime can help minimize overuse issues. On the other end of the spectrum, sedentary people suffer from muscle dysfunction and atrophy, along with a decreased range of motion in some areas of the body. For these individuals, adding stretch time can help remedy some of these problems. Flexibility training is vital to all, regardless of fitness level.
Stretching should include traditional exercises, functional work, range of motion techniques, and myofascial release. Myofascial release uses stretching, compression, direct pressure, and other techniques to release restricted areas of fascia (connective tissue) in the body. Releasing these tissues creates a biochemical and mechanical change that allows for more efficient movement.
According to studies cited in Michael Alter’s Science of Flexibility, muscle fascia makes up as much as 30 percent of a muscle’s total mass. It accounts for about 41 percent of a muscle’s total resistance to movement. Restricted fascia contributes significantly to limitations in mobility. A comprehensive program, consisting of a variety of stretching techniques and connective tissue release, should be part of any fitness regimen. Mixing things up can reduce the risk of injuries, improve specific skills, allow for better mobility, improve recovery time, avoid boredom, increase adherence, and improve overall conditioning and help you avoid boredom. Foam rollers, balls, rods, etc., are products that can assist in targeting and releasing the tissue.
Foam rollers have been a staple in clubs and at homes for over 20 years. They come in all different sizes and densities. If you aren’t using them yet, you should be. These inexpensive personal massage tools will help you with muscle recovery, soreness, injury prevention, flexibility training, and overall wellness.
Tips to get the most out of rolling:
* Make sure the body is a little warm before rolling.
* Adjust positions often.
* Approach each muscle group from different positions.
* Using the foam roller or balls can cause some discomfort, so start lightly and progress at your own pace.
* Lighten or increase the intensity with pressure as needed.
* Stabilize positions with the hands, feet, or other body parts.
* Breathe consistently.
* Self-monitor for optimum effectiveness, and do not overextend yourself. Deeper is not always better!
* It is more important to roll often for short periods than overworking an area all at once.
* Drink plenty of water.
Try these three exercises!
Seated square 4 position
While seated on the foam roller, place one ankle on top of the opposite leg. The support leg is at an approximately 90 -degree angle. Relax the elevated leg at the hip, roll onto the hip of the bent leg and move back and forth on the roller. If you are on the left glute, place your left hand on the floor behind the body for support.
Iliotibial (IT) band
While lying on the outside of the quadriceps, position the body with the elbow or hands on the floor and the roller at the hip. Roll down the side of the leg with the legs held together. If this is too intense, place the top leg on the floor, either in front or behind the lower leg.
Hamstring roll and stretch
Position foam roller under the hamstrings. Balance the body’s weight on the hands. Roll from the glutes to the back of the knees. Reposition roller higher or lower as needed. Externally rotate the leg from the hip while rolling, then repeat with an internal rotation—stack one leg on top of the other for added pressure.
Rancho La Puerta offers several myofascial release classes. When you come for a visit, be sure to give one or more a try. Your body will be so happy you did!
Aileen Sheron, featured in the photographs, was one of three finalists for the 2020 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year award. She has been teaching at The Ranch for over 30 years. Aileen began presenting information on myofascial release at conferences in 2003 and continues to present sessions on the benefits of flexibility training.