Have you ever had a deep tissue massage?
No? Me neither.
I’ve heard they’re pretty intense, though, and I know I plan to treat myself to one after I attempt my first marathon. (I’m not typically one to spend a lot of – if any – money on things like massages.) They are, however, beneficial to recovery, so I may just take the plunge one day.
So why are they so beneficial?
You can create muscle imbalances, especially in the major muscles of your body, by:
- Muscle overuse
- Improper form during exercise
- Overcompensation for another weakened muscle
- Prolonged inactivity
- Poor posture
The list is pretty extensive, so I just hit the big ones – they’re reasons why many of us need to remember to properly care for our bodies, because these are pretty common. When the deep fascia, or connective tissue surrounding your muscles to allow for smooth movement, becomes inflamed, it can cause fibrous adhesions (what many of us know as “knots”) that become very painful. The problem also lies in the fact that the deep fascia also aid in relaxation of the muscles. When it becomes chronically inflamed, the muscles remain tense, causing a cycle that increases muscle imbalance.
In order to increase or maintain the balance within your muscles, and save a lot of money you would spend on deep tissue massage, we can do our own called “self myofascial release”, or what most people know as foam rolling! Yeah, I know…any of you that do it already are probably reminded of how you love to hate it.
It can be pretty uncomfortable.
Foam rolling is extremely beneficial to preventing or treating muscle imbalance. Foam rolling allows you to roll out deep fascia adhesions by using a simple foam roller (how obvious)!!
What this does is places a considerable amount pressure (typically your body weight) on the tissue, helping to “release” the adhesion. By releasing it, proper movement can occur, inflammation will subside (as well as the pain), and muscles can develop or continue to work in a balanced state.
Do I do this?
I started foam rolling pretty consistently about a month and a half ago after actually researching what it does. Everyone around me was doing it (or recommended it), explaining that it helped with their running or their workouts. No wonder! There really is a method to our madness.
Remember that issue I had at the end of my half?
It had only occurred when I ran or sat in a specific position for too long. After I began foam rolling, I learned so much about the underlying issue: overcompensation. I have always focused on perfecting my form, but when I started rolling my left calf muscles, I noticed something I didn’t have in my right ones: pain. No pain in my left hip complex, but of course, there was pain in my right.
Want to know what I suddenly remembered?
I sprained my left ankle last year, and I’ve always secretly worried about rolling it again.
So, I’ve focused on balance and have done so using the Foam Roller App from RollRelease Techniques.
It’s honestly a wonderful app to have. As you can see from the screenshot below, it labels all the main muscles (or groups of muscles) and allows you to select which one you would like to focus on.
After making your selection, if gives you a list of options. It has a main movement that you can start out with, but if you have a hard time, you can selection the option before: a regression move. It’s based on the same movement, but provides more support. It also lists a progression and advanced progression for those who have mastered the main movement.
When you select the movement you need, the app provides a video to demonstrate how to perform the movement.
It’s pretty great, I tell ya.
What I need to add, though, is that when you’re rolling, as soon as you feel a painful or tender area, stop there. Try to relax as much as possible and let the roller apply pressure to the area for at least 30 seconds. This is crucial to aiding the release. It’s uncomfortable at times (I’m sure seasoned rollers immediate think of the IT band), but it’s absolutely worth it.
QOTD: Do you foam roll? Has it helped your training?
I was not compensated for this campaign but was provided a product for free for review by FitFluential LLC & RollRelease. All opinions expressed are my own.