Foam Rolling. We’ve all heard it before and while it has been shown to boos post-workout recovery time and increase metabolic reaction within the muscle, that is only one half of the equation. What if I told you that adding foam rolling to your basic dynamic warmup is also a way of acutely increasing your overall joint Range of Motion (ROM) as well as general flexibility? For years, many medical professionals such as physical therapists and massage therapists have used this technique, referred to as Myofascial Release, to relieve patients who were suffering from tight muscles and decreased ROM (2). Now that the health promotion field is growing increasingly aware of fine tuning the human body, everyone has the luxury of self-myofascial release in the gym, at the field, or even in their own home. Before we go deeper into the benefits, lets look at the basic science behind how foam rolling works.
To spare you an extensive review of neuromuscular anatomy I’ll hit a few key points that are essential to understanding foam rolling and self-myofascial release. There are two types of neural receptors in the skeletal muscle tissue. The first of which is the muscle spindle that is responsible for monitoring muscle fiber length and the rate at which the length is changing. Once that muscle fiber reaches its threshold, it triggers what is called the myotatic stretch reflex which shortens the muscle fiber to prevent damage. The Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) is in charge of monitoring muscle fiber tension and the rate of tension change causing the muscle to relax at its tension threshold. When targeting a trigger point (knot or kink) in the muscle […]
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