Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR), which can be an effective method for warming up prior to a workout as well as an active recovery tool. It is thought that, when used appropriately, foam rolling may increase parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) control resulting in an overall for of the body to relax faster after a period of stress.
Here are 3 other benefits for rolling below:
Improving Blood Flow
Foam rolling increases blood flow in muscles, tendons, fascia and ligaments. Increasing blood flow aids in preparation and recovery since blood caries oxygen, among other vital nutrients, to these body tissues. Crucially, the blood flow to these areas also helps to remove toxins and these two factors assist in maintaining healthy tissue.
Warming up is key to preventing injury and rolling can definitely assist with this. As previously noted, rolling increases blood flow and releases muscle tightness, which are key ingredients of preparation. Warm tissues are more pliable and less likely to get injured during light to intense activity
Increase Range of Motion (ROM)
Foam rolling before exercise can reduce stiffness and assist the body in smooth movement. As mentioned, foam rolling may signal the PNS to relax muscles, ligaments and tendons. As these tissues relax, fibers move from a contracted state to an elongated state easier and thereby can increase the range of motion around the joint that the tissues control.
Some Foam Rolling Options
As many benefits as foam rolling may provide, we don't want to overdo it. Spending 30-60 seconds on a particular area is all that is needed to achieve the desired benefits. Roll slowly and at an intensity that is just enough.
Inner Thighs & Upper Back
There is a caution against rolling the lower back. Areas the foam roll is used on should have bony protection for organs and in the case of the lower back there are the kidneys and the liver to consider, which have minimal bony protection (Newton, 1998).
Secondly, applying pressure to the lumbar spine and its separating discs can cause an aggravating effect to an area that you may already be feeling discomfort in due to structural or non structural factors.
IT Band, Piriformis & Hamstrings
Lats & Quads
Back, Chest & Shoulder Stretch
The option with a curved lower back is for persons with enough spinal mobility to accommodate. If your mobility does not allow, retain a bridged position at the hips & pelvis.