Self Treatment Technique for Foam Rolling

A self-treatment strategy for the connective tissue and muscles

  • Use of the foam roller is a form of passive regeneration: the roller has the same consistency as the human touch, and is a form of massage; it uses deep compression to help roll out muscle tightness that develops over time
  • The compression from the roller overstimulates the nerves, which stimulates the muscle spasm to shut off
  • The foam roller also increases blood flow to the connective tissue, or the container of the muscle, which then decreases the stiffness and increases the pliability of these tissues
  • The foam roller also stimulates the golgi tendon organ, which senses tension in the muscle; the golgi tendon organ responds to high or prolonged compression by causing the muscle spindles to relax the muscle being worked on; this response is caused by your body weight resting against the foam roller;
  • This allows the muscles to relax and loosen up, gets the blood and lymphatic system flowing, and helps the body recover
  • Think of your body as clay; the roll softens up the clay, so you can remold it into something more pliable and functional
  • Muscles are like a rubber band; your goal is to keep them supple and elastic; unfortunately, they tend to get knotted up with tight bands over time
  • If you put 5 knots into a rubber band, it’s the same rubber band, but it doesn’t store nearly as much energy and cannot be used effectively; muscles respond to trigger points in the same way. They become ineffective
  • More stress goes into a few parts of the rubber band instead of dispersing throughout the band
  • The connective tissue, which is like the container around the muscle, will also be compressed and released with the foam roller, allowing for expansion and relaxation of the muscle
  • You must release tight bands (trigger points) and tight connective tissue daily at first, and then at least 2x/week over the long term; flexibility IS the fountain of youth
  • The foam roller is easy to use while watching television
  • Use patient and gentle pressure, mobilize and loosen the entire muscle system (don’t go directly over bony landmarks such as the pubic bone or the bone at the outside of the hip- trochanter)
  • Keep your core engaged and use your legs and arms to tripod your body so that the angle of your body can be maintained comfortably while using the foam roller
  • Emphasize longer time periods of static pressure for muscle tightness; pause and hold with light pressure on especially tight areas for time periods up to 2 minutes
  • Keep the foam roller moving when you are trying to work on the connective tissue, or container of the muscle
  • When there are no more tender spots, then rolling over the area will keep the muscle and connective tissue loose
  • Roll and work areas from many angles with varying pressures
    Consistent rolling sessions pre- and post-exercise are helpful; try rolling before sleep to relax the muscles, especially if you have restless leg syndrome

Be comprehensive and disciplined, yet explorative; discover the correct amount of rolling and acupressure that creates a resounding feeling of health, mobility and freedom of movement

Top Five Foam Roller Exercises