Editor’s note: In our latest series Ask a Trainer, we get answers to some common (and not so common) health and fitness questions from Hong Kong’s top personal trainers and coaches.
Question: Why should I use a foam roller?
Daniel Williams of Precision Fitness: Foam rolling is the act of releasing ‘tight’ areas in our tissue. This tightness is normally thickened/tight/glued ‘fascia’. Fascia is basically a connective tissue in our bodies—it wraps around bones and even around and through muscles. When fascia becomes tight (which can be due to factors including previous injury, dehydration, poor posture, etc.) it has the effect of pulling on another area.
Imagine wearing a onesie—if you were to tighten up the right shoulder of your onesie and make it super tight, it would affect the whole onesie and you wouldn’t be able to move correctly (you’d also probably look a little weird too).
To move (and look) normal, you would simply release and smooth out the right shoulder, or any area that was tight for that matter. This is also what you feel when a massage therapist works into the ‘knots’ of your muscles.
By releasing the fascia in areas that are tight, we can increase range of motion and movement efficiency, allowing us to move more optimally. This is what foam rolling is all about. We are ‘releasing’ (‘ironing’) the onesie that covers all our muscles and tissues, allowing us to move in a better way. By doing this before exercise, we make sure that we can move in the best way possible.
Foam rolling has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness after exercise as it also has the effect of ‘flushing’ or ‘pumping’ the muscles. That means we’re getting the bad stuff away from the muscle and the good stuff in after a workout.
So, by foam rolling, you’ll not only be making sure you move well before a workout, but you can also do so after a workout to release any tightness that may have occurred during the workout to help the muscles recover.
Daniel Williams is partner and director of performance at Precision Fitness. After completing his BSc in Applied Sports and Coaching, Daniel continued to further his education focusing on health and performance with certification in TRX, ViPR as well as other certificates such as PNL1 and CPPS. precisionfitnesshk.com