2 mistakes you probably make while rolling the foam, according to anatomy expert
Foam rolling is a popular strategy for reducing muscle pain and improving mobility.
But many people make the mistake of rolling directly over connective tissue or bone, an expert said.
To avoid injury and maximize benefits, focus on large muscle groups and remember to stretch.
Foam rolling is often cited as a way to help muscles recover after exercise, or as a warm-up to improve mobility and blood circulation.
But many popular foam rolling techniques are likely to do more harm than good, according to Justin Cottle, laboratory director at the Institute of Human Anatomy.
“I’m not against the foam rolling, I just think people attribute too much to it,” he told Insider.
While there is some evidence that foam rolling can help reduce inflammation and muscle pain, many of the purported benefits go beyond what science supports, Cottle said. Improper pressure on the body with a foam roller can also cause damage, worsen pain or mobility issues.
If you do foam roller, maximize the benefits by focusing on specific muscle groups using gentle pressure and avoid potential risky movements like spinal rolling or computer banding, he said.
Avoid rolling directly over bones, joints, and connective tissue
Cottle said one of the biggest mistakes he sees from people is applying the foam roller directly to the computer tape, the connective tissue along the outside of the thigh from hip to knee, to relieve the “tightness” associated with sore muscles or aching joints. .
Rolling the IT foam tape is counterproductive, Cottle said, because the purpose of the fabric is to maintain tension, so trying to loosen it can cause injury.
Another mistake is to apply the foam roller directly to the spine by lying on your back on the foam roller and pressing down on the floor. The pressure can damage or misalign delicate vertebrae, according to Cottle.
“You could just stress the soft tissue and make the problem worse, or damage the ligaments that aren’t vascular tissue and therefore don’t heal well,” he said.
Stick to areas of dense muscle like the glutes and hamstrings
Since foam rolling can reduce muscle inflammation and promote mobility, it is best used on areas with the most muscle tissue, such as large muscle groups on the back of the legs.
“If you’re serious about foam rolling, you don’t need to become an expert in human anatomy, but be smart at what you do,” Cottle said.
Foam that rolls your glutes and hamstrings is more likely to give the desired results, and there is less chance of accidentally putting pressure on bones or connective tissue because the muscles are thicker in these. zones, he said.
Do not use intense or painful pressure
Anywhere you roll foam, Cottle recommends starting with light pressure. The “no pain, no gain” approach should not apply to foam lamination, he said. If something is very uncomfortable or even painful, this is a sign that you may want to calm down or ask a professional to help you.
“You can’t undo something you’ve been overdoing. Don’t be the screaming person in the gym on the foam roller and think about what you really want to do,” he said.
Use proven mobility and recovery strategies, such as stretching and rest
Research on the benefits of foam rolling often shows that it is useful in combination with stretching exercises.
There is plenty of evidence showing that a warm-up appropriate for a workout can improve performance and reduce injury. Cottle said foam rolling can be part of a warm-up, but exercises like dynamic stretches are more beneficial and have fewer side effects.
And the best and most proven way to recover from a tough workout has nothing to do with a foam roller: be patient and give your body enough rest, good nutrition and good hydration. -he declares.
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