FOAM ROLLER AND MYOFASCIAL RELEASE

Sean A. Archer

The foam roller is so simple and such an inexpensive piece of equipment, I’m amazed it’s not I every gym in the country. It can be used for a warm up and cool down. As a martial artist I find that my leg workouts (kicks, squats, power squats etc) and my recovery times are considerably better when I use the foam roller. Although Myofascial release is considered stretching, I would call it soft tissue manipulation similar to massage.

Before we get into the techniques we first have to understand what myofasial release is and how it works.

Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. It interpenetrates and surrounds muscles, bones, organs etc. Fascia is a tissue that extends from head to toe, from front to back, everywhere in the human body. It’s responsible for maintaining internal structural integrity, for providing internal support and protection and acts as a shock absorber for organs, muscle and bone. We will be focusing on muscle fascicles (see below).

illu_muscle_structure1

When muscle fascicles become tight it can stop the muscle fibers from relaxing and contracting correctly. Think of it like this, take your left hand and completely grasp your right index finger, hold on to it tightly. Try to wiggle your finger. Now slowly loosen your grip and your finger will have more room to move. Your left hand is the Fascia and your finger is the muscle fiber. Myofascial release relaxes the fascia so that the muscle fibers can move freely.

The foam roller can be used on most parts of the body, we will focus on the legs, Gluts, Hamstrings, Quads, TFL, adductors, Calf muscles and the I.T Band which is not a muscle but fascia on the outside of the leg. Most foam roller users roll on the equipment like a rolling pin rolls on dough, which is incorrect. The Golgi tendon organ, which senses tension and rate of tension change in the muscle, responds to high or prolonged tension by causing the muscle spindles to relax the agonist (muscle being worked on). This response is caused by your body weight resting against the foam roller, key word is resting. You have to find the most tender spot and rest on the foam roller and allow the body to relax. If you move to fast the GTO will maintain tension in the muscle and you will not relax or benefit from the exercise.

In the next issue we will go over the exercises.

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