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What is foam rolling?

Majority of the population today suffer from some form of “ache” or “pain”. Sadly, a greater number have adopted an idea that is this “normal” daily living. Some days are simply just “better than others”. I have said this myself and also heard this many times.

Acute pain is occurring more frequently and chronic pain continuing to wear out their welcome. My purpose here is to introduce you to a training principal that is being used by health professionals and gym-goers. 

Corrective Exercise is the name given to training principals where we focus on the body's imbalances, often caused throughout everyday activities. This is correctedthrough massage and manipulation of the tissues.

This stratedgy is easily done  because it can be self directed (you don’t need another person there to perform this). The name given to this method is Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) – self meaning you, myofascial meaning muscle, and release meaning relaxation.

SMR is being introduced into training programs because it is a simple, non-invasive tool that helps alleviate stress throughout the tissues in the body that interferes with our biomechanics, which really is just a fancy word for the way the body is intended to move.

With the alleviation of this stress on our bodies we have decrease pain, improved biomechanics and range of motion throughout our joints. It also aids us with our movement and muscle preparation before our workouts.

How is SMR done?

There are tools such as a foam roller. A piece of light weight, travel friendly foam that comes in a wide variety of sizes, and densities that you roll on to create pressure on the muscle. This pressure stimulates receptors located within the muscle fascia and connective tissue. This is when the body over rides the neural aspects that cause dysfunction or tension in the tissues. There can be some discomfort during this process.

Once the nervous system has been overridden, the body is essentially telling itself, “this is okay, you can shut down”.  Here the discomfort begins to diminish and pressure alleviates off the muscle. This is the reduction of that stiffness or soreness. 

How long do you stay on the muscle?

We want to stay on the muscle from approximately 30-90 seconds, recommended 30 seconds for those who are experiencing a high degree of pain with the SMR (self-myofascial release) technique and closer to the higher end of experience a low or mild degree of pain/pressure.

Following SMR we want to perform a static stretch for the area, which helps increase the extensibility of the muscle, putting in more into realignment.

Where and when do you foam roll? 

SMR can be preformed anywhere from your home, office, travel, vacation and hotel and during anytime of the day. It’s great to perform 5-15min pre and post workout to help with efficiency.

With SMR we are breaking up the adhesions in the tissue, increasing blood flow, allowing more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, which may speed up removal of waste in the muscle. The gains from SMR are relativity quick; however without regular engagement in this corrective exercise they can be lost quick however.

When should you notfoam roll? 

Now with any form of exercise, corrective exercise (SMR) does have some contraindications that I will touch on. If you have any of the following it is advised that you do not engage in the SMR technique:

Osteoporosis/osteopenia  - we want to decrease pressure on the bonesAcute Rheumatoid Arthritis -  we want to avoid causes more stress on the bones/jointsBlood clotting and related medicationsOpen wounds and healing fracturesAdvanced diabetes

Now of course with every new exercise procedure you should advise a certified health care practitioner before any engagement. As a Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, I introduce SMR in most programs I design for clients given their specific needs and goals, as well as my own program.

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