Although I’ve been “active” for ages now, my level of actual fitness has yo-yo’ed up and down. I’m currently on a mission to claw my way back to fitness, one 5.30am gym session at a time – Lord help me! Lol.
But, trying to get back into the swing of a regularly active lifestyle has been one of the most challenging things I’ve done for myself in a while. Mainly because, my body just takes so long to recover and bounce back to full flexibility and functionality after being inactive for long periods of time.
So, I’m basically outchea walking around like the Tin Man, unable to bend my arms or sit on the toilet, without wanting to cry, for days! Not cool man…
Now, when I first started working out, my trainer at the time would reward me for consistent performance and progress with a massage, after a certain amount of sessions. I know, right! Why did I ever leave him?! Lol.
Although this sounds like a fantastic benefit, it did not come without its pain. A sports massage will make you discover muscles you didn’t even know existed on a human person!!
Jumping back into the present…
Without regular massage, I found it was taking a lot longer for me to recover and perform at my best in each session. And so began my love of the Foam Roller – so much so, I even bought my own to use at home.
So, what is this Foam Rolling thing, I’m talking about…and why is it so magical?
Basically, what happens during strenuous exercise, prolonged inactivity or injury, the connective tissue around our muscle strands (called fascia) tighten up, causing our muscle tissue to stick together, restricting movement, causing stiffness & sometimes, real pain.
The Foam Roller – a 50cm to 1 meter long foam pillar thingie, that you roll your body and limbs over – helps us facilitate “self-massage” to release these tight areas.
The fitness experts call it self-myofascial release, or the “poor mans massage”, lol!
In the absence of regular massages, this has been SUCH a life saver for me.
One of the main reasons it’s so great, is because it allows direct connection to the area that needs release – this is often difficult or resticted when doing a regular stretching routine – Rolling helps you really “get in there”.
Some other great benefits to Foam Rolling:
- Not only does it release the tension in the muscle, it also facilitates reduction of muscle cramp by helping rid the lactic acid build up
- It improves circulation, and the appearance of cellulite (Bonus!)
- It helps increase mobility after a hectic workout – so you’re less likely to be walking around like the Tin Man 😉
- And, ultimately increases flexibility overtime, and reduce injury
Some important things to remember when starting out on the Roller:
- Take it slow – 10 to 15mins is really all you’ll need, every alternate day
- Make sure your muscles are already warm before you Roll – I usually do my Rolling right after a strength training workout, or Yoga session
- Focus on the soft tissue, not your bones or joints (duh!)
- When Rolling, put your full body weight behind the limb your rolling out & gently move up and down over the Roller – targeting the specific muscle area
- The point of Rolling is release, so when you find a particularly painful area, keep the Roller on that “trigger point” for a while longer until it eases up and releases
- Yes, it will hurt – if the area is painful when pressure is applied, you probably need to spend more time rolling it out
- This is a massage after all, so HYDRATE after each session and through-out the day
- Keep at it, and increase the session time as your flexibility & intensity increases
This is my go-to Rolling routine. It’s a great full body routine, helping to release the major muscles that often take strain, i.e. Calves, Glutes, IT-band, Groin & Hip-flexors (a big sensitive spot for me), Hamstrings and Back.
I prefer a very firm, smooth Roller. Some of them have ridges in them – these are a bit too aggressive for me, a tad too painful. And I find the ones at the gym too soft – probably because they are well-used. So having one handy at home, is a great convenience.
I bought my Roller at Dischem – They are quite reasonably priced. (The link will take you to the exact one I bought)
To get started Rolling, here is a video to help you a long. It’s a full 20mins session – try it!
**VERY IMPORTANT: If you have any circulatory issues, cardiac challenges or are literally a total fitness newbie, please consult your doctor first, before embarking on this kind of exercise support or any new workout routine.