I have a love-hate relationship with foam rollers. In fact, I remember the first time I saw one. I had no clue what it was, how to use it, why one would want to use it, or that they came in a variety of sizes and densities. Learning about a foam roller was a lot more fun than actually using one on sore muscle areas. Wincing aside, it turns out that foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique. 

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) shares this helpful document about the technique. It states the benefits of SMR as:

  • Correction of muscle imbalances 
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Improved joint range of motion 
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency
  • Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
  • Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain
  • Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity
  • Provide optimal length-tension relationships 
  • Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system

Are you ready to get rolling? It’s worth mentioning NASM’s document mentions that foam rolling is contraindicated for those with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions. Outside of that, NASM shares:

Foam rolling should be done before static or dynamic stretching activities, improving the tissue’s ability to lengthen during stretching activities. Foam rolling can also be done as part of the cool-down.

This week’s workout/exercise spotlight: Unilateral Training. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) shares:

Unilateral exercises are single-leg or single-arm movements. The primary benefit of including unilateral exercises in your training programs is that the exerciser is using both sides of the body equally. Doing so helps to avoid overtraining or overusing the dominant side, helps to isolate and correct muscle imbalances, improve balance, utilizes core muscles, aids in injury prevention and facilitate rehabilitation. There are exercise examples and a lot more to read here.

By Victoria Emmitt RD

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