by PJ Wren
How many of you stretched after your last workout? Yeah, even if I could see a show of hands, I think that showing would be slim.
I, too, am guilty of skipping the stretch part of my workout. Although I know it’s good for me, sometimes even us trainer’s don’t always do what’s expected of us.
One thing that I have found to help offset my lack of stretching, though, is rolling aka foam rolling. While I may not have the time right after my workout for those pesky good-for-me stretches, I always have some spare time in the evening to roll out my tired and shortened muscles.
What Does Foam Rolling Do?
A lot of people have heard of foam rolling – which is awesome. Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release, which is just a fancy word for working out the kinks and knots in the muscles. It’s the poor woman’s massage therapist.
In addition to releasing the tension in our muscle spindles, for rolling will also:
-Increase the blood flow throughout the body – making this a great warm-up tool as well
-Rolling, on a regular basis, will also help prevent injuries. I can vouch for first-hand as it has also helped me to continue training like a frenzied banshee – well into my 40’s.
-Rolling has also proven to be successful in improving an athlete’s balance, coordination and stamina. So, if it can work on an athlete, just think of what it can do for us mere mortals?
-Finally, rolling will also help improve your spinal alignment and posture. Great news for all you desk-jockeys out there.
If It Hurts… Good.
If you are rolling along and find a painful area, guess what? You need to hang out there and roll it. That “pain” is what’s called a trigger point.
Trigger points are specific knots within the muscle that is stopping the muscle from contacting smoothly. Lots of trigger points, means you have some tight muscles that need to be worked out.
Common trigger point areas are:
-Along the outside of the thigh, the IT band
-Outside of the hip, the glute medius
-Around the armpit area, the lats and rotator cuff orgin
-The calves, a common tight area
What Kind of Roller Should You Buy?
First off, do not use those foam rollers that are used for balance exercises (like you see in physiotherapist’s offices). These rollers usually are too large for our bodies, and the act of rolling on them will actually do more harm to the muscle cell than good. Second, foam will break down, losing its compression and shape over time. Even the foam rollers sold as “closed cell form” don’t really hold there shape.
PJ’s Choice: Top 4 Foam Rollers
- Travel Roller (and they are Canadian!) PJ’s Favorite Roller!!
- Trigger Point Roller
- Rumble Roller
- M80 Groove Roller
Now, grab your roller and join me in my Total Body 10-Minute Foam Rolling Workout (click here if the workout does not appear for you)