Workout Tips

Foam Roll to Relieve Muscle Tension

A simple recovery tool that can work wonders for total-body training.

Foam Rolling: Your New Secret Weapon

So you can bench press a car and deadlift a truck, but can you bend down and touch your toes or hug your knees to your chest? With so much mixed information about stretching, static v. dynamic, pre-workout v. post-workout, it’s tough to know the best way to relieve muscle tension. But there’s a simple technique that will keep your muscles sliding and gliding with ease. Taking proper care of underlying fascia is your new secret weapon to improving mobility, flexibility, and range of motion.

What Is Fascia?

Fascia is a thin, elastic-like connective tissue surrounding the muscle that supports and protects the body from injury by providing hydration to the muscle fibers and keeping the muscles in place. Recent research on the relationship between fascia and muscle shows that the muscles actually distribute a large portion of their contractile forces onto fascial sheets. In some muscles, for example the gluteus maximus, 85% of the muscle fibers go to the distal fascia rather than to the theoretical muscle insertion. So whether you’re a triathlete or a body builder, keeping the fascia in optimal health is key in improving overall performance.

How It Works

Adhesions, or knots, in the fascia can occur from overuse and trauma causing the soft tissue to become restricted, which may result in joint pain, muscle tension and diminished blood flow to the surrounding area. Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, targets adhesions by providing focused pressure that encourages the surrounding muscle to relax. This healthy habit can improve flexibility while expanding your range of motion and helping relieve muscle tension—and it doesn’t’ take long to get the results you want.