Here on my blog, I talk a lot about the benef
its of exercising, especially the benefits of strength training for menopausal women. But the great work shouldn’t finish when the exercise stops. It’s just as important to stretch properly afterwards too. Proper stretching helps recovery and prepares the body for the next exercise session, so that you get the most from it.
One major way to use stretching to your advantage is to use a foam roller. Exercising with a foam roller is known as self-myofascial release, or SMR, which means ‘self-massage’. A foam roller is a long cylindrical piece of equipment made from a strong foam, that has a series of bumps and grooves on it.
The Cumulative Injury Cycle and Davis’s Law
If we have a pulled or tight muscle or continued bad posture, it can lead to trauma in the soft tissue. We feel this as an ache or a pain. If left or we carry on with the same habits, it can lead to inflammation in the area, which can in turn lead to a muscle spasm. Over time, adhesions can form which cause pain, immobility and muscle imbalance. This then causes further injury and so the ‘cumulative injury cycle’ is continued.
If these soft tissue adhesions become permanent (as the tissue loses its elasticity) we’ll experience ‘knots’ and areas of frequent pain. This is known as Davis’ Law. You may experience these knots in your shoulders for example, caused by being hunched over your desk, or by carrying a heavy bag regularly. Or in your back if you lift weights incorrectly.
Foam rolling helps to ease, and ‘iron out’ these adhesions, making it extremely beneficial for freedom to exercise, getting the benefits of exercise and for better posture and mobility.
Foam Rolling and the Effects on Posture, Flexibility and Stability
But regular foam rolling doesn’t just help recovery. It also helps improve freedom of movement, posture and flexibility and amazingly, aches and pains that you may have deep in your muscles. It will also help your muscles relax, reducing the effort the entire musculature system needs to work at. This helps improve your stability and helps prevent you from falling over. It also helps intensify the level at which you can exercise.
Foam rolling can be used to help treat tight muscles and pain anywhere in the body, mainly in the legs, chest, back and shoulders. It’s especially beneficial in women approaching, in or after the menopause since it helps maintain good stability. During the menopause, the bones can become weaker, leading to a higher risk of fractures if you do fall.
Learning to Use a Foam Roller
There are many different types of foam roller, depending on your needs and fitness level. To use one, you need to place it under the body area you want to treat, and roll over it, backwards and forwards, making sure the core is contracted at all times. It’s normal for it to hurt when you hit certain areas of tightness, just like a deep tissue massage would.
Although the ‘S’ in SMR stands for ‘self’, it’s crucial to get foam rolling right. The best way to do this is with a personal trainer who will understand the individual needs of your body. I work with women every day who see the benefits of foam rolling. If you’d like to join in and reap the rewards, then contact me today!