Benefits of Foam Rolling

Scientific evidence lags behind popularity of using the foam roller but the limited research suggests it does do what we hope for:

1. Less fatigue in exercising when foam rolling is used as part of a warm up.

2. Foam rolling helps reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), hence boosting performance in later work outs.

3. Foam rolling increases muscle flexibility and a short term increase in range of motion.

How does it work-the theories:

1. Myofascial self release. Adhesions or trigger points in the muscle fascia are formed due to injury, muscle inactivity, disease, inflammation or trauma. Myofascial release may help separate these fibres and re-establish tissue integrity.

2. Muscular warm up through friction. Foam rolling induces friction on targeted muscles, warming up the muscles and helping you move better during a work out. It also speeds up recovery time post workout through an increase in blood flow and toxin flush out.

3. Neurological changes within the muscles. Foam rolling triggers nerve receptors that talk to the brain to reduce pain signals from the muscle, allowing it to loosen.

How to roll and NOT to roll!

1.  It should not hurt! Muscular tenderness can be felt on a roller after exercise, but it should not last. If pain during rolling lasts longer than a few days, you should seek professional advice to rule out injury.

2.  Abdominal breathing is an important tool to assist the release process.

3.  Myofascial release is a tool as part of a work out, designed to assist you.

4.  Always roll just muscles, not ligaments (IT band!) or joints/spine/lower back.

5.  Daily routine- effects of foam rolling are short lived, so roll regularly.

6.  Stick mainly to gluteals, piriformis, hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, adductors in legs, lattisimus and pectorals in upper body

7.  Divide muscles into 3 segments, bottom/middle/top and roll each segment 30 secs for 3 sets, then polish off with a 30 sec roll of the entire length of the muscle.

8.  Small Lacrosse type Ball(not too hard!) release for shoulder areas, foot soles and isolated trigger points. Provides deeper and more targeted pressure.

Pilates foam roller daily workout

1. Supine bridge with feet on foam roller

Benefits: Spinal articulation; Hamstring/gluteal strengthening; pelvic stability; Hip flexor stretch

Repetitions: 10

Breathing: Exhale up, inhale down.

2. Supine upper spine extension over foam roller

Benefits: Upper spinal extension; Pectoral stretch.

Repetitions: 10

Breathing: Inhale to prepare, Exhale to extend back.

3. Combination hip flexor and hamstring stretch with balance challenge with knee on roller and other foot on floor.

Benefits: Hip flexor stretch; hamstring stretch; pelvic stability; balance; spinal extension.

Repetitions: 5 each leg

Breathing: Inhale to prepare and exhale to stretch

4. Mermaid stretch with twist with hand on foam roller

Benefits: Hip mobility; Lateral spinal articulation; Lattisimus stretch.

Repetitions: 5 to each side

Breathing: Inhale to prepare, exhale to stretch and reach

5. Prone spinal extension/ Swan dive preparation with arms on foam roller

Benefits: Spinal articulation in extension; Lattisimus strengthening/stretching; Pectoral stretch.

Repetitions: 5

Breathing: Inhale to prepare, exhale pull up.

6. Child’s pose with arms over foam roller

Benefits: Relaxation; pronounced abdominal breathing; Spinal stretch.

Breathing: Deep and relaxed, Breathe in roll out, breathe out roll in.