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Most runners will have heard about foam rolling or may have even encountered foam rollers in their gyms. However, there are a large majority of runners who are still unsure as to what benefits foam rolling exercises can provide them and their running performance.
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release therapy that applies pressure to sore muscles, fascia and trigger points. This essentially is an alternative to deep tissue massage therapy and aims to stretch and loosen overactive muscles. As running causes muscles to go through a constant process of breakdown and repair with each training session, this can cause the connective tissues surrounding muscles to become inflamed leading to tight muscles. Due to this, runners can experience numerous benefits by performing foam rolling exercises on a regular basis.
While foam rolling is most commonly carried out post training, it can also provide many benefits to runners as part of their warm up routine. The method helps to release tension within muscles. Also increase blood flow, balance, mobility without compromising muscle strength and release neurotransmitters which help to block fatigue. Therefore, this will ensure that your muscles are in peak condition for a better training performance. If you are experiencing muscle tightness, it is also important to spend some time foam rolling after your training session. This will help to prevent further injury, promote relaxation and repair of the affected muscles.
If you are a beginner and have never included it, ensure that you are using a roller correctly. Also, effectively in order to get the most benefits from this method of myofascial release. It is often advised that beginners start out using a foam roller of soft density. Then slowly work their way up to a higher roller when they are ready. When it comes to foam rolling, avoid spending too much time on the one area. This could cause further inflammation and injury. The aim is to spend between 30 and 60 seconds on a sore area and to slowly foam roll your way from the pain centre to the connecting muscles.
The most common areas for runners to foam roll include the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings and the illiotibial band. Some individuals often rush and breeze over these areas as part of their regime. Releasing fascia tension takes time and can be painful so it is very beneficial to take your time and be gentle when focusing on these areas to ensure that your muscles perform effectively. However, if the area is particularly painful do not apply too much direct pressure.
Here at Ballsbridge Physiotherapy Clinic, our physiotherapists are trained in assessing your running performance and can advise you on the correct foam rolling exercises and techniques to help you ensure that your training sessions are optimised for peak performance. If you have any questions about foam rolling exercises or would like to book an appointment, contact us here.