Rolling and releasing - The things I've learnt

Easy to implement, not necessarily painful and portable.

Plenty of research has been published on foam rolling in the last 10 years or so. As with most studies the evidence is contradictory in some quarters.

One meta-analysis I've read suggests that, as a recovery tool, self myofascial release with a foam roller is not justified, but using the roller as part of a warm up provides benefits. Yet another 3 studies I've delved deep in to conclude that release work using a foam roller or a stick roller decreases the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

When VAULT temporarily closed in March 2020, and we implemented a range of online classes I've found myself doing more and more foam rolling and release work that ever before. I've done nearly 10 sessions per week of foam rolling, releasing and mobilising and I've noticed a lot of changes.

For me, the regularity has become almost addictive. I can't start a day, go through a morning, get in from work or finish off my day without a couple of minutes working on a few different areas of my body. When I do have to go a long period of time without some form of release work I find my mood goes south! So 5 minutes here and there not only breaks up the day but improves my mental health. I've found that it helps me on the odd occasion I have some external stress too. Grabbing a roller or a spikey ball gives me the opportunity to breath, slow down and focus on the things I can control.

I hate the phrase "pain is weakness leaving the body" I want to avoid pain like the plague. When I find a trigger point that really needs some work I know that I'm better off treating it with a 6 out of 10 discomfort than a 9.5 out of 10 pain score. 6 out of 10 still lets me keep a normal breathing pattern and I don't create this whole body tension, grimacing as a try and work out a knot. I've found my body perceives this as extra stress and I actually feel worse because of it.

I'm fortunate in the sense that the majority of my day means I can be fairly active, I can only think back to a time when I would sit behind a desk for hours on end through university or early in my working life. Spikey balls and small rollers are ideal in this regard as they can easily accompany you to work or university in your bag or stay under your desk for you to grab whenever you need and take just a few minutes to yourself.. You could even take them away on holiday with you too - if you are on a 3 hour drive south or a 10 hour drive north, why not break up your spell of driving with a few roadside minutes with roller? Refocus on the task at hand and do your body a favour too.

So, regardless of what the studies say, whether you are; warming up, recovering post workout, teasing out a trigger point or just want to clear your head rolling and releasing at any point will be beneficial for you as you have the time and opportunity to focus on you.

Until next time.


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