Today I’m going to dive into how to get rid of your aching knots and muscles with my myofascial release foam roller exercises blog post. I’m sure you’ve seen the foam roller around the local health club or gym since it’s very quickly becoming one of the best training principles to include into your workouts.
And in this post I also want to answer some of your frequently asked questions about the foam roller and myofascial release because to be honest I hear a ton of questions every week on it. I honestly don’t know everything about myofascial release and foam rolling but I’m hoping to help you understand the basics behind the principles and benefits of it.
To be perfectly frank with you there isn’t very much science out there behind foam rolling and it’s really unfortunate because this is one of those training methods that actually works and there’s very few, if any, scientifically based research studies on it.
Self-myofascial release using the foam roller is based around the GTO also known as the golgi tendon organ, which basically tells us the amount of tension in any particular muscle group or tendon. As the tension in the muscle/tendon increases also does the likeliness of becoming injured.
As you foam roll the areas of higher tension you’ll effectively loosen the muscle/tendon areas by causing the GTO to relax and dramatically increase the range of motion in the joint, thus decreasing the likelihood you’ll become injured. Nobody wants to be a big giant rock and although many people in the gym focus on becoming stronger they also put muscle pliability on the backburner.
Stretching is great and should be done following a myofascial release session on the foam roller. Also keep in mind that stretching a muscle will increase the length of it while foam rolling will essentially improve the tone of the muscle. Both of these combined together to make an awesome tag-team of healthy muscles, tendons and joints.
When you’re on the foam roller it’s really a matter of no pain no gain. It’s just like getting a deep tissue massage and it’s supposed to hurt in certain areas because those are the trigger points. In fact, if you’re not feeling anything then you either need to find a denser foam roller or you’re doing it wrong.
And you won’t turn into Stretch Armstrong overnight, it requires repetitive use and I recommend it to all of my clients everyday and before every workout that they do. It only takes me around 5-10 minutes to complete a full body myofascial release session on the foam roller, and it’s worth every second.
Although the only times when I wouldn’t recommend foam rolling is on recently injured areas when there’s still inflammation in the area, because foam rolling will only make things worse. Wait until the inflammation goes down before you start foam rolling the muscle/tendon area. It’s also going to be super difficult to foam roll if you’re severely overweight or obese because there’s a lot of rolling around on the floor and the foam roller probably won’t be able to do much through a big layer of fat.
If you’re just starting out on the foam roller then I would suggest using one of the white colored ones because they will be less dense and won’t apply as much pressure as the black ones. But the white foam rollers also don’t last nearly as long as the black ones, and once you don’t feel much with the white foam roller then it’s time to progress up to the black ones, which are way more denser.
Other myofascial release tools such as the tennis ball can be progressively increased as well by just upgrading to a lacrosse ball. Another simple method to increase the pressure on the foam roller is to simply take a leg off the foam roller, stack one leg on top of the other, take your hands or foot off the ground to maximize the amount of pressure placing on the foam roller.
Those who are just beginning with foam rolling are going to have to spend more time doing the exercises than the pros, and it’s going to hurt like hell. I remember when I first started doing self-myofascial release and I would spend 30-45 minutes almost every day just using the foam roller!
I generally perform 10-12 slow and controlled repetitions on the foam roller. If I find an area that it’s particularly dense then I’ll spend a little more time on it until the trigger point subsides. Like with anything that you do, you’re going to want to spend the most time and efforts on the muscle/tendons that are giving you the most problems.
Keep in mind with the video below that I was simply cranking through the exercises so you don’t have to sit and watch me foam roll all day.
Myofascial Release Foam Roller Exercises
If you’re still interested in discovering more about myofascial release and foam roller exercises then I highly recommend taking a look at my Secrets of the Foam Roller DVD.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.