Ever since interning at Endeavor this has probably become one of the greatest things since sliced bread (sprouted grain Ezekiel bread of course). They are cheap to buy and in turn you feel 100x’s better. A few genius guys like Mike Robertson and Perry Nickelston have posted how foam rolling or “self myofasical release” works.
“Traditional stretching techniques simply cause increases in muscle length and can actually increase your chances of injury. Self-myofascial release (SMR) on the foam roller, on the other hand, offers safe benefits and breakdown of soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue in fascia. Fascia is a three-dimensional fibrous matrix that interconnects throughout all cells of the body. Fascia surrounds muscles, bones, and joints which gives our body structural integrity and strength. Abnormal fascia can be the leading cause of chronic pain, reduced flexibility and decreased athletic performance.
SMR on the foam roller offers an effective, inexpensive, and convenient way to both reduce adhesion and scar tissue accumulation and eliminate what’s already present. Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn’t yield marked improvements overnight; you’ll need to be diligent and stick with it (although you’ll definitely notice quick benefits). Self-myofascial release (SMR) on a foam roller is possible due to the principle known autogenic inhibition. A Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) is a mechanoreceptor found at the muscle-tendon junction; it’s highly sensitive to changes in tension in the muscle. The muscle contraction that precedes the passive stretch stimulates the GTO, which in turn causes relaxation and allows for greater range of motion. With foam rolling, you can simulate this muscle tension, thus causing the GTO to relax the muscle.
Essentially, you get many of the benefits of stretching without the inherent risks associated with poor technique. It’s also fairly well accepted that muscles need to not only be strong, but pliable as well. Regardless of whether you’re a bodybuilder, strength athlete, or ordinary weekend warrior, it’s important to have strength and optimal function through a full range of motion. While stretching will improve the length of the muscle, SMR helps to adjust the tone of the muscle.”
The best example I have heard with foam rolling is if I took a rubber band and tied a knot in it and then pulled the ends of the rubber band away from each other, what would happen to that knot? It would still be there or get tighter. Those are the adhesions or knots that we are trying to get rid of. If I kept pulling on the ends hard, where would the tear of that rubber band be likely to occur? Right next to either side of the knot. What am I getting at? Well, you can do all the stretching in the world, but it is not going to get rid of those adhesions (which we all have). Therefore, we all need some type of self-massage technique to restore our muscles proper length (getting rid of the knots) which will make us feel less tight and less injury prone. From personal experience, I felt as though my groins or hips were always locked up beyond belief, but once I was introduced to foam rolling, after a good minute of hammering away at the locked up areas, the immediate benefits were significant.
Although there are immediate benefits associated with foam rolling, improving tissue quality takes a long time and should be one of the tools in your arsenal if you want to improve your performance, reduce the risk of injury, increase ROM, and overall just feel amazing. This is just a quick video on some areas to hammer away at that can often be tight or problematic to your movement. Usually we would want people to roll 10-12 times (30-60s) per body part (quads, IT band, hamstrings, adductors, thoracic extension movements, TFL). However, if one spot on the body is overly tight or irritable you may want to spend an extra 30 seconds performing small rolls over that specific area.