Are you truly improving your flexibility using a foam roll? Foam rolling and trigger point release have become a very popular topic over the last few years. You’ve seen it or tried it in the gym, rolling over that tight muscle with a grimace on your face, waiting for the relief to occur. Using a tool such as a foam roll/trigger point ball can be effective in decreasing tightness and improving flexibility in the short term. What you really want is long term and SUSTAINED relief. Think about a massage; you feel great the next 24-48 hours but then you tend to resort back to where you were prior to enjoying that 60 minutes in heaven (or pain if you enjoy deep tissue massage). This is because if we aren’t maximizing the new range of motion provided, then muscle tissue will inevitably resort back to its original flexibility.
A lot of people end their workout with a foam roll/stretch routine, which can be helpful, but there are many benefits to starting your workout with a foam roll. The goal with any warm up, massage or foam roll is to promote increased circulation/blood flow and improve muscle flexibility. Increasing core/muscle temperature prior to a workout can improve the extensibility of the tissue and decrease your risk of injury. This will also improve performance so you can maximize your workout. This can be achieved by foam rolling the targeted muscle group and then immediately following that with a dynamic stretch.
To do this, perform 8-10 rolls on each muscle you are targeting or just simply spend a few minutes on one area. If there is a painful muscle that feels extra tight, hold the foam roll/trigger point ball on that area instead of rolling over it repeatedly. You will slowly feel that spot loosen up and become
less sensitive as sustained pressure can decrease trigger points/tight musculature. The three components of this warm up can be broken down into: 1) massage 2) stretch 3) activate. We want to ACTIVELY elongate musculature and increase core temperature in order to get the most out of your workout.
Example: Rolling out or massing the hamstrings, followed by a hamstring stretch with contract-relax technique (shown), followed by some hinge work is the best way to improve hamstring length and tightness.
The videos shown here are some examples of specific stretches you can perform following the foam roll.
Great after pec mobility work:
Great after rolling out the quads and inner thigh:
Perfect for after rolling out the upper back:
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