Updated: Apr 13, 2020
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofasical release (SMR) that frees up your fascia through applied pressure. The goal is to stretch and loosen the fascia so that you can move more freely.
What is Fascia? Fascia is a sheet of connective tissue that surrounds your muscles. When fascia is restricted and forms adhesions, it can cause your body to become sore, injured or restrict movement. Foam rolling will alleviate these adhesions improving muscle pain, mobility, circulation and balance. Coach Christopher Sommers of Gymnastic Bodies has a great analogy of fascia being like your hair when it get tangles in it. “If the muscles aren’t stretched on a regular bases stuff starts getting knots in it,” Coach Sommers said, “think of it like a tangle. The foam rolling done well can be a really nice way to get in there and break those knots out.”
When should you use a foam roller?
Before class, using a foam roller is beneficial to increase your range of motion (ROM).1 This is important to Irish dancers when performing movements like swings and clicks in the front and curling in the back. After class, foam rolling should be used as an effective way to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).2
Where do you roll?
You can use a foam roller on most muscle groups being sure to avoid your bones and joints.
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MacDonald G.Z, Penney M.D., Mullaley M.E., Cuconato A.L., Drake C.D., Behm D.G., Button D.C. An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. J Strength Cond Res.2013;27(3)812-21.
Pearcey G.P., Bradbury-Squires D.J., Kawamoto J.E., Drinkwater E.J., Behm D.J., Button D.C. Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measuremes. J Athletic Training 2015;50(1);5-13.