Do you use a foam roller after you’ve trained or on your days off? If you do then that’s great. If you don’t, well then maybe you need to consider investing in one.
I never used foam rollers until last year. I started to squat 3 times a week which made my legs as tight as Ebenezer Scrooge! My hamstrings, abductors and quads felt ‘locked up’ and I found it difficult squatting the next time around.
Tight leg muscles are a problem, especially if you are training kicking techniques like I was. Training with weights can hinder your flexibility which is a bad thing when it comes to training in martial arts. Tight muscles can hinder the speed of your strikes.
Having big muscles look’s good as anyone will admit but, it’s not very effective for fighting. Big biceps can slow down the speed of your jab. Not to mention if you find yourself in an omoplata (shoulder lock) or any other type of arm /leg lock then the lack of flexibility or tight muscles, will defiantly leave you ‘up shit creek without a paddle!’
As I found my legs getting tighter, I looked for ways to relieve this in conjunction with the regular static stretches I was performing. I came across the foam roller. The foam roller is an excellent tool to use for tight muscles and I wish I had taken the time to look into it way before last year.
What does the foam roller do exactly?
Foam rolling is known as ‘self-myofascial release’. What the eff is myofascial release?! I hear you say. Well, I’m glad you asked.
Our bodies have something called ‘fascia’ inside them. Fascia is connective tissue which exists within and throughout our entire body. It is made up primarily of collagen.
The fascial tissue is an infused, intertwined, continuous web of tissue which extends throughout the body. It separates our muscles and organs. Imagine a huge spider web of a sticky substance that flows through our whole body, woven through and in-between our tendons, bones, ligaments, organs, nerves and bones. We all have this huge web of fascia that stabilizes and separates our muscles, tendons and ligaments
What does Fascia have to do with tight muscles?
Tendons may thicken when exposed to heavy weight training or repetitive motions, fascia can also thicken when repeatedly exposed to stress and repetitive motion.
This can result in;
- Limited range of motion
- Less flexibility
- Improper movement patterns
This can build up over time and lead to chronic pain and injuries. When fascia thickens it can cause adhesions that are sore spots in the muscles. These adhesions are known as knots or ‘trigger points’ in the muscles that cause irritation when massaged. A knot feels like a tiny ball under the skin.
The ‘tightness’ I was experiencing was the thickening of fascia in my leg muscles due to the constant stress of weights and repetitive squatting. I could feel many knots, particularly in my hamstrings. This can also happen to any muscle in the body, not just the legs.
The Foam Roller to the Rescue!
The foam roller comes in many shapes and sizes. You can get different grades ranging from soft-hard.
Foam rolling is similar to a deep massage. Foam rolling involves you lying on the ground with the foam roller placed between your targeted muscle and the ground. Then a slow movement is performed back and forth on the muscle group being treated. Foam rolling uses your body weight as pressure, giving you a very deep muscular massage.
4 Huge Benefits of Foam Rolling;
- Free’s up fascia, helping the muscle to regain its full range of motion.
- Gets rid of knots in the muscles.
- Increases flexibility and blood flow, this increases the muscles recovery rates.
- Reduces soreness from workouts.
There was a time when foam rolling was rarely known. It seemed to be used only for athletes and rehabilitation patients, by specialised physiotherapists. In this day and age, information is getting shared all around the world and foam rollers are now showing up in regular gyms.
You may feel impatient after training and want to relax, but don’t miss out on using a foam roller especially now you have some knowledge of its benefits. I promise your muscles will thank me in the long run!
If you’re interested in foam rolling exercises, drop a comment below and I’ll write a post on how to perform them to release tension in different muscle groups. If you like the post, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to the left and you can get all the latest Modest Dragon posts sent straight to your email. Plus you get a free eBook!
Have a good week!