An Inside Look at Self-Myofascial Release

Areas to Avoid: Joints, Spine, and Low Back
The purpose of foam rolling is to target the soft tissue of the body, so you want to avoid joints and bony landmarks. You want to particularly avoid the unstable joints of the body like the shoulder. Pressure around these high range of motion joints can actually increase the odds of dislocation due to their instability. For areas around the spine, try using a tennis ball instead of a bulky foam roller to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the spine.

Areas to Target: Trigger Points, Tight Muscles, and Connective Tissue
Foam rolling can be an amazing tool when done correctly. Tight muscles can be rolled out and trigger points can be released. Think of a trigger point like a knot in a muscle, and foam rolling like a deep tissue massage; when pressure is held on that point for 30-60 seconds the tightness can be resolved, and in foam rolling you can control the intensity and duration of the release. By not releasing tightness, it can lead to knee and hip pain if not addressed. Popular foam rolling locations include quads, hamstrings, glutes, lats, IT band, TFL, abductors, and calves.

What to Expect: Discomfort
Foam rolling is not for the weak of heart, but at the same time it shouldn’t be excruciating. Roll to the point of discomfort, but not pain. You should be able to maintain good breathing throughout.

What to Pair it With: Water, Water, Water
Self-Myofascial Release or foam rolling can release toxins that are stored in the muscles, so just be sure that you are hydrating properly after you foam roll. This will help flush those toxins out of the body as effectively as possible. Eating clean can help with a quick recovery as well.

How to Choose a Foam Roller: Density
Choosing a foam roller can be tricky business, and density is the key. If the roller is too soft, it won’t do anything, and if it’s too firm, it can lead to bruising or other injuries. You might even find that you prefer different densities for different muscle groups. Trying them out or reading product reviews are the most helpful ways to avoid a bad purchase.

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer