Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Guest Post: This is How I Roll

After CrossFit last Saturday, my hammies have been extremely sore. I have stretched. I have rolled. I have rolled some more. And yet I am still sore. This prompted me to ask Hubby about proper foam rolling and he so graciously offered to write a guest post on it. For those who don't know, Michael Cuccia, aka Hubby, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. Here's what he has to say on foam rolling.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), better known as the act of “Foam Rolling”, is technique that involves pressure on a muscle to stimulate the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) creating Autogenic Inhibition which will in turn relax the muscle.  Sounds complicated, right?  Let’s break that sentence down.  The GTO is located where muscles and tendons meet (tendons connect muscles to bones). GTOs are designed to sense changes in muscle tension and will relax the muscle to prevent it from being put under excessive stress which may cause injury.  Autogenic Inhibition is the act of the muscle contracting providing an inhibitory effect on muscle spindles.

Still confused?  Just think of Foam Rolling as nothing more than a way to loosen up your tight muscles.  

The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends following their Integrated Flexibility Continuum as a way to progress through traditional “stretching” to dynamic warm-ups before conducting activity.  For all three phases, Corrective, Active, and Functional, the first means of preparing the muscles for activity is SMR.   For Corrective Flexibility (beginners) SMR is followed by Static Stretching, or holding a stretched muscle for a period of 20-30 seconds.  Most people are very familiar with static stretching.  For Active Flexibility (more progressed beginners) SMR is followed by Active-Isolated stretching.  Active-Isolated Stretching is a little harder to explain.  But a good example is lying on your back and holding your leg straight in the air.  This stretch uses the hip flexor and quadriceps to hold the leg up while the hamstring is being stretched.  And finally Functional Flexibility (advanced) SMR is followed by Dynamic Stretching, which looks a lot like jumping, skipping, squatting and lunging, to prepare the muscles for activity. 

A good deal of foam rolling is performed on the legs.  However, you can foam roll your back as well.  For the legs, you can target all the major muscle groups.  You can roll your Calf Muscles (Gastrocnemius, Soleus), Hamstrings, Piriformis (butt), Quadriceps, Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) (the “outside” of the upper thigh), and the Adductors (“inside” of inner thigh).  I have Runner’s Knee, so I spend a lot of time foam rolling my TFL before and after I run. 

There are many different sizes and types of foam rollers.  6” x 36” Round is the most typically used size and I recommended most people starting with this size.  Next is hardness.  I also recommend not using the high-density foam rollers first.  The 1 softer foam (usually white) is much easier and even though it will begin to warp with repeated use, it will still do the trick.  After a few months, or by the time your foam roller starts looking like a bow, switch to the 2 high-density roller (usually black).  Beyond that there are “studded” rollers like the 3 trigger point or 4 rumble roller.  I have a high-density rumble roller (they also offer a version with the softer foam) and I can tell you it’s brutally painful to use but sometimes you need to go hardcore.  Days following a heavy squatting I’ll use the rumble roller on my hamstrings, piriformis, and adductors to help relax all those tender muscles.

  1. Body Sport Foam Rollers
  2. Black High Density Foam Rollers - Extra Firm - 6" x 36" Round
  3. Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller, Black
  4. Rumbleroller Deep-Tissue Massage Roller
Many thanks to Michael for writing this post! He's even taught Little Beast how to foam roll. 

If you are interested in learning more about Michael, please see his blog - Rocckk Adventures.

Do you have any questions for Michael?

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