Are you Achey and Sore? Do you feel tight? Feel like you have “knots” in your muscles? Well, friends, It’s totally normal to be feeling a little bit stiff and or sore after your work out. Or after you have had a long day on your feet. Especially If you haven’t exercised in a while. Doing lots of squats, jumps, push-ups, or walking/running for miles certainly put a lot of stress on your body that it hasn’t been used to. Or maybe it is used to it and you have just changed up your routine. Maybe you tweaked something. Either way it means your muscles got a “pump” like they haven’t had in a while. A change in your routine can be enough to leave your body nice and achy. Anytime I throw a new program into the mix, I am working different sets of muscles in different ways and hitting spots that leave me super sore and tight.
A little bit of soreness isn’t anything to be worried about. Even a lot of soreness. Don’t use those aching muscles as an excuse to skip a day or two or three. Skipping will only derail a solid start to a successful workout program. But at the same time, pain is nothing to ignore because it can clearly lead to or indicate injury. Know the difference between pain from injury and soreness from worked muscles. All I am saying is Just don’t use it as justification to bail out on your workouts. There are many solutions to help with soreness. I have a separate blog post on cherry juice and how that can help. Foam Rolling is a solution that’s simple enough to do and seriously effective when done properly. It HURTS like heck while your doing it but in a hurts so good kinda way. Imagine a deep tissue massage that you give yourself. It’s worth it in the end.
The WHY of foam rolling
Let me get all sciency on you for a minute. I mentioned a deep tissue massage. Well, some call it “Myofascial Release”, a rather long and fancy word for self-massage. I had to do this a lot after surgery to break up and prevent scar tissue. As muscles work, they generate metabolic wastes, such as lactic acid. As those wastes build up in the muscles, they create a balloon effect, making the muscles swell up. While a larger muscle certainly might look fabulous (welcome to the gun show), the build up in the muscle tends to make its fascial envelope stretch so tight, it’s unable to contract more fully or relax more freely until the extra fluid is moved out. Light massage techniques, such as Swedish, serve to help push these metabolites out of the muscle bed, allowing for a quicker recovery.
Muscles that “knot up” have trigger points. Trigger points tend to be a tell tail sign of more chronic problems. Usually the problems are with range of motion, posture, or exertion. These trigger points can occur at different depths within the muscle. It depends on which section of the muscle is being engaged most with the movements you are doing or the exercises that you are doing. The fascial membrane that surrounds muscles or the muscle fibers themselves can contract. When the body senses that the level of exertion is above the contractile strength or endurance of the myo (muscular) or fascial tissues involved, the body knots up those fibers as a survival strategy. The only problem with that is that those “knots” restrict your movement and can cause serious pain. Foam rolling helps by pressing into the muscle and hitting those trigger points, releasing some of the muscle congestion.
What foam roller should you use?
There are different types of rollers that target different problems. A smooth, soft roller is generally going to work better for the more superficial trigger points and light soreness. A roller with uneven surfaces, like the Trigger Point Roller, is best for getting down deep and working on the deep tissue pain and trigger points. Its more like a deep tissue massage with the bumpy rollers. I personally LOVE my Trigger point roller. And it comes in fun colors. Pink is always a go for me.
If you’re someone who tends to like deep pressure in a massage, go for the Tigger point roller. If deeper pressure tends to be too uncomfortable for you, go for the smoother roller. The important thing to remember in is that foam rolling can feel uncomfortable at the outset. That’s putting it nicely. IT HURTS. When you find the muscles that are tight or knotted up, the pressure of the roller will hurt as you roll over those tight spots. Let your body weight sink into the roller, relax, and focus on your breathing. Breathe through the discomfort and pain. Don’t try to lift yourself up. Roll your body just to the edge of the discomfort. As your nervous system responds to the pressure, it will learn to relax the trigger points on the roller and help release those “knots” and release the muscle.
HOW to use a foam roller
The first thing I did when I started foam rolling was think of every part on my body that was sore and try to roll them out…Bad decision. The trick to using your foam roller in the most effective manner is to start with the areas that are MOST sore and or knotted. The ones that are really restricting your movement. Slowly go back and forth along the muscle, consciously trying to relax as much as possible and going as slowly as possible. When you find the “hot spots,” The spots that make you jump or want to says a few choice words, stay on them, relax some more, and go back and forth a few times until the trigger point releases.
If you are looking for some video instruction we have specific teaching videos in our Online Wellness Studio, Beachbody On Demand. You can try it out for 14 day for FREE!
Now, Get to rolling. Feel free to ask me questions and let me know how it goes for you. Even the hurt so good stories. I like to hear it all.