Sunday, May 9, 2010

The importance of foam rollers



Last week, we experimented with foam rollers at the beginning of camp which should be as essential a piece of kit as your running shoes. A foam roller works on the same principle as a sports massage therapist but at approximately £10 is a darn sight cheaper.
It is cylindrical piece of hard foam which you can roll over for a self massage and which works to release myofascia tissues. This is the soft connective tissue that wraps and connects muscles, bones and blood vessels. Often due to injury, misuse or lots of exercise without sufficient stretching, it and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together resulting in tight muscles, reduced flexibility and/or range of motion in joints.
Moreover, if one muscle is inhibited another muscle will kick in to do the work resulitng in a domino effect which will eventually lead to biomechanical failures.
So how exactly does rolling on a piece of hard foam help? Foam rollers work by tricking the muscles into relaxing by stimulating the action of a sensory receptor in the muscle fibres called the Golgi Tendon Organ. This is highly sensitive to muscle tension and when it feels a muscle being stretched too tight, it forces it to relax and lengthen to prevent it tearing.
Of course, a foam roller is no substitute for a professionally trained sports massage therapist or for seeing someone if you are injured. But at just over £10 it should be a vital piece of equipment for anyone who exercises, from the occasional 5k runner to someone running regular marathons. The downside? It is painful but stick with it every day and you will see huge improvements in flexibility, range of motion and sports performance. Visit www.physiosupplies.com for a range of Foam rollers. You can see a range of self massage exericses you can do by following this link http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/flexibilityandstretching/ss/FoamRoller_3.htm

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