Due to the high levels of stress our bodies endure during both athletic and recreational activities, it is an all too common occurrence to experience soreness and performance decrements, sometimes up to 72 hours after the activity. This soreness in part is due to a process our muscles go through in order heal and recover after performing increased physical activities, and is a constant focus in both the athletic performance and rehabilitative fields. The technique of foam rolling has grown increasingly popular over the last several years as we gain further understanding of its potential benefits regarding both recovery and athletic performance.
Currently, there are two main protocols with regard to foam rolling and how to achieve the most benefits: foam rolling prior to activity, and foam rolling after activity. According to current research, foam rolling prior to physical activity has shown temporary improvements with individual’s flexibility, ROM, blood flow, and endorphin levels, all of which serve to improve physical performance and decreased risk for injury during that bout of exercise.
Alternatively, foam rolling after physical activity has been shown to improve an individuals inflammatory response, decrease musculature excitation, and improve post activity blood flow, all of which help to speed up recovery and decrease post-activity soreness. Due to the potential benefits of foam rolling both prior to and after activity, the most successful inclusion of foam rolling in a recreational or athletic program is during both the warm-up and cool-down periods of exercise. Proper technique with foam rolling is imperative in order to receive the most benefits both prior to and after activity, so check out this month’s Exercise Of The Month video for further details on the most effective method for foam rolling.