Working in the fitness industry I come across so many people in the gym and through personal training and massage who are tense. They suffer from tension in their legs, hips, lower back, shoulders and across the chest. This really restricts their movement which can make even the most simplest of things like reaching something from the top shelf or bending over to put your shoes on difficult.
And these are the people who still go to the gym/seek help, that’s not counting all of the thousands of people across the UK who just suffer and do nothing.
One of the main causes of all this tension is office work! Being hunched in a chair behind a computer for 40+ hours a week is absolutely terrible for your muscles and can create muscle imbalances, poor posture and eventually injuries.
Your body should be nice and upright which is the perfect position for your muscles, but when you are seated your abdominals are relaxed and switched off, often your shoulders are hunched and your back is rounded. No good!
Just think about how much time we spend sitting down these days? I’m sitting down writing this and I can imagine all of you are sitting down reading this.
Since I qualified as a sports massage therapist this topic has interested me greatly. Having tight muscles creates so many problems for the body with all of the aches and pains which goes with it.
Our body is covered in something call myofascia, this is a structure of connective tissue which covers the muscles, nerves and blood vessels. If our fascia is tight then our muscles are tight and our range of movement is restricted. Leaving you feeling stiff, weak and even old!
So how many people who feel like this will finish their 8 hour day sat down in the desk and head straight down to the gym? Not many people. Most of them will go down and… you guessed it! Sit down again. A vicious cycle which can be hard to get out of.
The way to solve this is a technique called Myofascial release. A deep tissue sports massage is a great way of getting deep into the muscle tissues breaking up the knots/adhesions and leaving you feel free again.
If you want to book a sports massage with me/find out more about it click here.
You can actually do something called Self Myofascial Release (SMR) so that is the same benefits to a degree of sports massage but you can do it yourself.
This is what I wanted to actually wanted to talk to you about, a piece of kit which you can all use at home which can help loosen up those tight muscles.
The Foam Roller
Heard of it?
You may see have seen a few athletes using them but it is for absolutely everyone. It’s cheap, easy to use and VERY EFFECTIVE.
Foam rollers come in a few different shapes and sizes. You can get one for under a tenner just look on ebay or Amazon or pick one up from a sports shop. You can get softer rollers and harder ones, if you’re new to this start on a softer one and then get a harder one later if needed.
You can also get long ones or short ones. Go for long. Don’t bother with half foam rollers either make sure you get them in cylindrical shape.
Good Time To Use A Foam Roller?
– After a heavy bout of training when you are feeling stiff
– Build up to competition
– On rest days
– When you suffer from a tense spot in your muscles
SMR techniques such as using the foam roller helps to smooth out all of the knots and adhesions in your fascial tissue which can have a massive improvement on muscle performance.
How To Use A Foam Roller?
Just type into youtube how to use a foam roller and you will get all of the key movements.
Just to warn you that you will feel a little bit of pain and discomfort when using a foam roller especially when you go over some tender spots. But it is a good kind of pain if there’s such a thing.
Basically the foam roller mimics the hands of a sports massage therapist. It rolls up and down the muscles under you control smoothing out the myofascial tissue and looking for knows or adhesions to work on.
What you are looking for is little trigger points in the muscles, smoothing these out will help to fix you. Spend more time going over the trigger points with the foam roller. Trigger points are sometimes known to lead to headaches, muscle and joint pain and are associated with problems such as; dizziness, nausea, earache and more.
What I like to do on my rest days is go to the gym do some walking in the pool, go in the Jacuzzi, sauna then shower come home put on some relaxing music, dim the lights and do 20-30 minutes of foam rolling and deep breathing. I feel great after it. Or you could just do it after a hot bath.
As well as improving muscle performance it can help aid your energy levels and mental focus.
So to summarise, a foam roller can help:
– Heal old injuries
– Improve muscle flexibility and elasticity
– Better posture
– Correct muscle imbalances
– Quicken recovery between training
– Get the muscles ready for competition
– Dramatically improve sporting as well as normal life performance
So whether you are a football player, a regular gym goer or an office worker you can all benefit from improved posture and better functioning and looser muscles. You know what to do.
The main areas to start with to work on with the foam roller would be upper back, between the shoulder blades, hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves. If you’re a runner then you should work on your IT band, you’ll feel that one!
So to find out how just pop into youtube for example hamstring foam roller stretch and take it from there.
I’m going to try and get a foam roller routine video up myself soon so keep an eye out for that.
Any questions please let me know.
So give your muscles what it needs and get a foam roller. Don’t just pop a few painkiller every time you suffer with aches and pains do something about it.