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3 Big Foam Rolling Tips You Need

If we were to quantify foam rolling in a timeline of universal events, the Big Bang happened at midnight and foam rolling happened less than a millisecond ago. It's a baby in the industry and we are still learning techniques and tools to help us massage any aches and pains we've accumulated from our hardwork in the gym.

Here are a few tips to help you through the process.

1. DO NOT FOAM ROLL THE LOWER BACK...and certain joints

Hopefully those all caps letters captured the gravity of the situation. A typical foam roller is about 5 inches in diameter. Your lumbar spine is already curved (a natural lordodic curve) and does not need to have it accentuated any further. This is to prevent any possibility of an anterior herniation happening.That's not to say you should never release the muscles in the lumbar. Instead of using the foam roller, swap it out for a couple lacrosse balls and have them pin pointed at the muscles that run along the spine. This saves your lower back any problems and really targets any tight areas that could hinder your mobility. Also, keep away from structurally "compromised" pressure areas like your elbow and knee joints. There is no need to run the roller in these areas and will only cause unneeded discomfort and unwanted stress in the areas.


2. Stretching before your workout is so 80's

It is the 21st century and we are a long way from sweatbands and parachute pants. Stretching before your workout inhibits force production and increases likelihood of injury.

Massage the muscle tissue to get more blood flow to the area and to "break up" any tight knots that could inhibit movement. Knots in the muscles lock the muscle from properly contracting and relaxing, which locks movement in the area. If untouched, eventually, the body will send that road block of stress elsewhere and now you have an injury. Give your muscles a fighting chance; help them relax and rush them with blood to allow them the proper response to your rigorous workout.


3. Find your "happy place"

This is the biggest tip with foam rolling. If it's your first go around, the foam roller and the areas you touch will seem like torture. You've been stretching before and after your workouts for so long that the moment you apply a subtle touch to your muscles, you're cringing and looking for the exit.

The mind is so beautiful in all it's untapped potential that we can actually tap into one it's most useful tools; cognitive self regulation. This means that you have mindful control over what is happening to you and are able to redirect thoughts to ones that suit achieving your task. An ultra marathon runner on his 100th mile is able to replace the thought of his feet burning with every stomp on the ground to a refreshing warmth coming out of a blizzard. This allows the runner to continue his task and win the race. The same goes with foam rolling, only that it's not actually hurting you. The moment you calm your mind down from wanting to guard the muscles from a perceived threat, that is the moment your muscles relax and are able to take full advantage of the foam rolling session. Smiling during perceived pain will also send a signal to the brain to relax and enjoy the ride. So take a deep breath, smile, and roll. Your muscles will thank you for it.

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