Foam rollers are such a useful tool and should be used by all athletes at all abilities. At a very low cost they can be used in any location, very easy to transport and even easier to use.
Avoiding injuries is everyone’s aim, this great injury prevention tool will help to keep muscles healthy, stretched and ready to perform. Foam rolling is a great way to speed up the recovery process.
By applying pressure on “trigger points,” the foam roller will break down the knots and stretch the muscle fibres out. This will help to remove any waste products in the area and remove the tightness in the muscle, helping you to feel more relaxed and aid your performance.
You don’t need to be a professional to use a foam roller, they can be used by anyone at any time. It’s all in the name “foam rolling,” all you need to do is roll your body along the foam to stretch the muscles out.
Foam rollers are a great piece of kit for any team or individual to help in all areas. Great for targeting tight areas in the legs, back and shoulders. All foam rollers are designed to maintain their shape and provide a deep self-massage.
Some common uses foam rollers are used are:
- Tight Calf’s,
- Tight Hamstrings,
- Hip flexors,
- IT Band,
- Knotted shoulders,
- Stiff neck,
- Bad back
Foam rollers are a great warm up and cool down tool. You decide how deep you want the stretch to be by the amount of pressure that you apply. You may decide to apply more pressure to stimulate aggressiveness before an event, or you may decide to use less pressure to relax the body to help you focus.
There are many different types of foam rollers ranging from different lengths, different pressure points and different shapes. Every foam roller is personal to you and has slightly different benefits. A longer foam roller will help you with larger muscle groups and able you to balance easier. The hollow foam rollers with the rigid edge are designed to give you the deepest massage so would be better suited to athletes that will use the tool on a regular basis. A massage stick is another great tool as it can be used to apply pressure on certain points as well as providing self-massage.
If you would like any advice on how to use foam rollers or advice on which one would suit you, please get in touch with Recover to Perform.
Are you spending long enough recovering? Did you know that most injuries take a couple of weeks to fully heal with some taking longer? Avoiding the full recovery process may take you back to square one and re-damage the repairing tissues. To help the recovery process you should get it checked by someone with the correct training, protect the injury, rest it and apply ice.
There are four stages to tissue healing – bleeding, inflammation, repair and remodelling.
- BLEEDING – This happens instantly after an injury and can last for 12 hours.
- INFLAMMATION – This can happen in the first few hours of injury. If there is a reaction then it can last 2-3 days post injury.
- REPAIR – This happens 24/48 hours post injury, and if there is a peak reaction then it can last 2-3 weeks.
- REMODELLING – The remodelling stage starts 1-2 weeks post injury and can last a whole year.
The four signs of inflammation are; HEAT, REDNESS, PAIN and SWELLING.
- The heat and redness are caused by an increase of blood flow to the area.
- The pain is caused from dead cells acting upon free nerve endings and also large amounts of pressure in the area.
- The swelling is fluid that is trying to protect and repair the injured site.
Please get in touch with Recover to Perform and find out how you can speed up the recovery process and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Sometimes a "truth" is not what it seems. Take lactic acid. For years, many massage therapists have been taught that lactic acid can and should be flushed from the muscles of athletes after intense activity. This truism has been passed on to clients who have also accepted it as fact. Both therapist and client thus have established and perpetuated a mutual belief system that purging of lactic acid is not only necessary, but also efficiently accomplished with the assistance of massage. Some beliefs die hard. This one and others related to lactic acid have been holding their own, not only in some massage schools and practices, but also in the community at large, despite emerging research to the contrary. Pass the word. There's no need to mess with Mother Nature.
Lactate accumulated from intense exercise actually fuels the body, according to Dr. Owen Anderson, exercise physiologist and editor of Running Research News. In a recent interview from his office in Michigan, Anderson explained the facts.
Lactic acid levels will return to homeostasis quickly post-exercise without any "hands-on" assistance. "Muscles don't need help from massage in removing lactate," said Anderson. "Massage will probably have the biggest effect on venous blood," and by the time massage is administered, lactate has already left the muscle. This is not to say massage isn't beneficial to the athlete. "Massage is good for relaxing," said Anderson, "and provides help increasing flexibility of muscles."
Whitney Lowe, owner and director of Orthopedic Massage Education and Research Institute and author of Functional Assessment in Massage Therapy concurs with Anderson's statements.
"Lactic acid is a natural by-product of any muscular activity. There are elevated levels of lactic acid in muscle tissues after exercise, but that is going to subside either with time or with any type of movement activity, even just walking around the room."
In addition, lactic acid does not cause muscle soreness, fatigue or the "burn" of intensive exercise, noted Anderson. His comments and those of Lowe are backed by valid scientific research. Several studies conducted in the 1980s by exercise physiologist Dr. George A. Brooks ushered in a new perspective on this supposed "demon." Brooks noted that lactic acid is a key substance for providing energy, disposing dietary carbohydrate, producing blood glucose and liver glycogen and promoting survival in stress situations.
Although the effectiveness of massage to flush out lactic acid after exercise has been disproven, there are benefits to validate its use in sports. "In my own experience," said Keith Grant, head of Sports and Deep Tissue Massage Department at McKinnon Institute, "I've seen that massage is effective. How our body reacts to things depends on both the state our body is in (state of memory), as well as the input." Grant combines his knowledge as a scientist with personal experience as a massage instructor and runner to support his conclusions.
Pointing to a study by Tiitus and Shoemaker (1995) in which effleurage did not increase local blood flow, Grant said, "This is a mechanistic way of looking at what's going on." The difficulty, he noted, in interpreting research results comes from looking for direct, mechanical effects. "Clinically, we see a different story," he said. "Through our techniques we work with the nervous system to relax muscles, but that's not a direct mechanical effect. "I believe the effects of massage also involve the neurological and emotional. My reason for that is the neurological side controls the current (base) state of the muscle activation. The emotional controls the chemical messengers that affect the immune system. What seems likely is massage acts as a new input to a system with a memory. Massage stimulates the mechanoreceptors and can gate off pain receptors. It floods the body with new sensory input. We are using the nervous system to reset the muscle to greater relaxation.
"In my observation, fatigued muscles tend to remain hypertonic and shortened. When we cajole specific muscles to relax and lengthen via mechanical and neurological input, we reduce their metabolic activity. When the muscle relaxes, it's not using energy as much, not metabolizing as fast, not producing waste products and because it's more relaxed, it's not compressed and not exerting pressure on surrounding tissues. This means circulation is better. It's not because we're pushing fluid around. It's because we've put the body in a more optimum state, so the body naturally increases circulation on it's own. By massaging muscles and adding input to the nervous system, we are facilitating the body in recovering faster from exercise. It's not the massage that's doing the healing, it's the person's body."
In a British study of boxers, massage was reported to have a significantly positive effect on perception of recovery, giving scientific credence of its benefits as a recovery strategy. According to the authors, their results support arguments by some researchers that "the benefits of massage (in sports recovery) are more psychological than physiological."20 Grant takes that a step farther. "As a trained scientist, I use what I observe and what I know about physiology to come with a hypothesis. From my own experience in running, when you exert to the point of substantial fatigue, you come back feeling more fragile, in an emotionally vulnerable spot. To have the sense that someone is nurturing, in a sense taking care of you, is a very psychologically emotional thing. In supporting the person, we improve their immune function and their ability to heal, by influencing the chemical environment of their body. It has to do with psychoneuroimmunology, the whole chemical homeostasis of their body -- neurochemicals and the relationship between mood, or feelings, and the immune system.
"There is some evidence that following heavy exercise, both L-glutamine (an amino acid manufactured by the body) and the immune system take a dip. I look at the healing effect of massage as, in some way, counteracting that dip. When you provide support it has a positive effect on immune function. If the person doesn't feel supported and nurtured, it will have a negative effect on the chemical environment, opening them more to catching colds, not healing as fast and decreasing their ability to train. It ties into the whole emotional state of a person. The athlete has to stay healthy in order to continue training. With massage, they can train harder because they are able to recover faster."