Give Your Muscles The Love They Deserve
First thing's first. We hate the term 'foam rolling'. Foam sucks. This blog is all about what is commonly known as 'foam rolling' or 'self-myofascial release', but from here on we will simply refer to it as rolling. Ok, let's get started...
Why is rolling so important?
When we exercise microscopic tears occur within our muscles . This micro-trauma is healthy and expected, and it is in healing these tears that muscles grow and develop. However, for this to occur, we require the correct recovery routine in terms of rest, diet, and active recovery processes.
If we do not recover properly post-workout fascia scar tissue can develop within the muscle and result in muscular dysfunction, or ‘tight’ muscles. In extreme cases, this scar tissue can grab hold of bone structure causing significant pain and reduced performance (think shin-splints).
Healthy muscles work via microscopic filaments (called actin and myosin) that slide up and down as our muscles go into flexion and extension. When we do not recover correctly via correct warm down and myofascial release, scar tissue can develop which can inhibit our muscles from sliding efficiently, reducing our muscles output. In addition to reduced output, this micro-trauma can result in the tightening of muscles, causing postural changes that can lead to injury. For example, tight quadriceps can result in anterior pelvic tilt causing lordosis of the lumbar spine. In short, this can cause significant lower back pain, especially during exercise such as running.
Traditionally, massage has been used to release tight muscles and reduce any harmful scar tissue that has developed due to exercise, and increase blood flow to all muscles, aiding recovery (1). This is called myofascial release. Rolling allows athletes to do this themselves, thus self-myofascial release.
Rolling does not replace massage in sport, though it does reduce the need for it. Rollers are your personal masseuse. Regular rolling can allow athletes to stay on top of troublesome muscles from home. Gentle rolling pre- and post- workout can increase blood flow to the working muscles, improving performance, and aiding recovery. Deeper, more extensive rolling once-twice a week can also facilitate myofascial release and ensure key muscles are healthy and happy, ready to go again next week.
Should rolling your muscles hurt?
Yes, but not too much.
If you've ever had a sports massage, you'll know that massaging your muscles properly involves some pain. Consumers are often unaware that traditional foam rollers are not hard enough to effectively massage your muscles. Anyone who has used a foam roller for a longer period of time and become addicted to the feeling of release will have been through the experience of trying to find a roller hard enough for them.
Fortunately, our cork rollers are much more dense than foam and offer a more effective massage. They do not soften over time in the same way and maintain their density.
Watch this space for the most effective rolling and stretching techniques - coming soon.