What is Foam Rolling? What does it do?
It is a method of self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. By applying the pressure of a foam roller to specific points on your body you are able to help with the recovery of muscle and assist them to return to normal function.
It’s not a replacement for proper stretching, warming up or cooling down, but can be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility.
Have you ever felt sore after a long practice or a tough game? You wake up the next morning and have stiff muscles, have trouble moving, don’t have full range of motion? There are a whole bunch of chemical and mechanical body reactions that produce those effects, but there are ways in which we can help prevent that. Putting in a good stretch OR foam rolling your whole body after games and practices will help do that! Our body produces a chemical called “Lactic Acid”, and for those of you who have never heard this term before, don’t worry! You know that burning feeling in you get in your muscles after a tough workout? Well that’s your body producing lactic acid. When we don’t stretch or foam roll after each session, we wake up the next morning with all that lactic acid built up in our body and that’s why we feel sore. The benefits of using a foam roller will allow you to get all that lactic acid out of your system and allow your muscle to properly function. There are a lot more benefits to foam rolling which we will see in a minute.
Why does foam rolling hurt?
Have you ever got a deep tissue massage before and found it super painful? Well foam rolling allows you to provide the control of how light or hard you want to apply the pressure on your muscles. Your body has many trigger points. Within the illustration on the right, the only points I want you to understand are the red dots and where they are located. Trigger points are specific “knots” that form in muscles. They are unique and can be identified because they will refer pain. Releasing trigger points helps to re-establish proper movement patterns and pain free movement, and ultimately, to enhance performance. Utilizing stretching alone is not always enough to release muscles tightness, which is why foam rollers have been so successful.
Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied into it and then envision stretching the cord. This creates tension, stretching the unknotted portion of the muscle and the attachment points. The knot, however, has remained unchanged.
Foam rolling can assist in:
- Breaking up these muscle knots,
- Resuming normal blood flow and function.
- Increase flexibility
- Decrease muscle tightness
- Decrease the chance of muscle injury
- Increase Range of Motion
The goal to any corrective or recovery technique is to get you back to the point of normal functioning, as if nothing was ever wrong.
How do I know what to Foam Roll?
Target specific areas/muscles that relate to the movements you use in basketball.
– IT Band
– Groin Muscles
– Gluteus muscles
– Calf muscles (gastrocs/soleus)
– Shoulder muscles (deltoids/Traps)
How do you Foam Roll?
- Apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller ad your body weight
- Roll slowly
- Stay on tight areas for several seconds
- Relax throughout the process
- stay on a muscle for 30 seconds (pain should subside and you should feel muscles loosen)
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER TO HELP REPLENISH YOUR MUSCLES
****If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area. The goal is to restore healthy muscles – it is not a pain tolerance test!!!!
When should I foam roll?
If you are using a roam roller only to rehab injured muscles, you’re not getting the most out of it.
– Rolling out for WARMUP helps to increase blood flow and releases muscle tightness and can interfere with proper running form, agility, and technique.
– Rolling out for COOLDOWN helps to flush out the toxins (Lactic Acid) to help with recovery
*Foam rolling shouldn’t be done just during practice and game times. It just takes 15 minutes before bed, when you wake up, while you are watching TV, study breaks..etc. These are just some examples SO THERE ARE NO EXCUSES.
**Foam rolling once a day for 15 minutes should be more than enough to sustain healthy muscles.
Foam Roll increases your range of motion
Roam rolling helps to stretch out and lengthen your muscle fibers. When you are doing certain exercises such as running, that hard impact can actually start to damage that muscle over time if you aren’t doing anything to help regenerate and repair that muscle. BUT if you use a foam roller to help lengthen and stretch it out after a long period of continuous muscle contractions (running, jumping, sprinting, squatting, etc) it will help with the recovery, lengthen the muscle fibers and allow you to have an increased range of motion and flexibility.
How does foam rolling help with injury prevention?
- When it comes to muscle injuries, what is the main complaint? Muscle strains.
- How do we get muscle strains? Tight muscles or improper use/conditioning of the muscle.
By taking care of our muscles and foam rolling, we will help loosen up our muscles, increase the range of motion, allow for more flexibility, and increase our function.
What is a muscle strain?
A muscle strain, or pulled muscle, is when your muscle is overstretched or torn. This usually occurs as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle but the most common places for basketball players are hamstrings, quadriceps, and groin muscles.
As the amount of training accumulates you want to make sure you are foam rolling and stretching on a regular basis to make sure you are at peak performance. When you strength train you breakdown muscle fibers, which can lead to knots in your muscles as you recover if you do not properly stretch and perform some sort of muscle release.
By using a foam roller to roll out these tight areas and break up these soft tissue restrictions you are releasing the tension in these muscles. You have to have balance when it comes to making yourself a better basketball player and a better overall athlete.
Take the time to eat and hydrate properly, and get in an ice bath when you’re sore. You’ll get more out of your game if you stretch and foam roll after your workouts, helping to ensure proper firing of the muscles as well as proper growth and development.
Foam rolling also helps speed up recovery from workouts, increases flexibility, and prevents future injuries.