What is Fascia?
Fascia is a system is a flexible material that is made to look like a messy spider web. The interesting thing about fascia is that it covers all of our bones, muscles, veins and organs. All of the fascia through our body is intertwined together in one piece from our head to toes. This fascia is extremely important in maintaining structure and stability through our body.
Put the facts to the test: This simple test is a great illustration on how all our fascia is connected. First you want to reach down touch your toes. After you have reached your farthest point make a note of how low you could go. After that use a tennis ball to release the fascia under your feet. Place the tennis ball under the sole of your foot and gently roll it back and forth. Then, place your toes over the tennis ball and massage the back of your toes. Then, finally, roll down the sole of your foot all the way to the back of your heel. After spending 5 full minutes on each foot retry the toe touch test. It’s not uncommon to see a 5 inch improvement!
At resting fascia is in a flexible and wavy state. This relaxed state will change when an individual experiences physical or emotional trauma, scarring and inflation. This stress response causes the fascial to become tight and restrictive “feeling like you have a knot”. This adaptive response is meant to signal us to relax the muscle and allow for healing. This is a beneficial response in some cases but not all. If your muscle have recovered but the fascia has not relaxed this causes a serious dysfunction in your muscles. This dysfunction will decrease form, create imbalances and lead to injury.
Sometimes simple stretching is not enough to relieve severely tight muscles, which is why foam rolling can be beneficial. Like getting a deep tissue massage, it can increase blood flow in specific muscles and break up muscle knots.
Also like a deep tissue massage, the pressure you are putting on the effective muscle can hurt. It is important to be aware of the difference between feeling pain that is caused by putting pressure on a muscle knot, and pain caused by something more serious.
How Do You Use A Foam Roller?
Important points to remember when using a foam roller so you do not hurt yourself:
1. Go slowly. And if you think you are going slow enough, go even slower.
2. Instead of applying pressure on a direct point of pain or discomfort, start by applying pressure indirectly to other areas around the affected muscle.
3. When applying pressure make sure to relax the muscle. Human response is to tighten up and have short breaths. Control your breathing and hold to spot under tension for 5 deep breaths before moving on.
Areas that a Foam Roller Can Benefit:
5. IT Band
6. Erector Spinea (Muscles parallel to your spine)
8. Shoulders and more!