Foam rolling is known to improve the mobility, flexibility and muscular performance of endurance athletes, as well as helping in terms of muscle recovery.
Explained Adi Sufian, 26, a Fitness Professional & Personal Trainer at Virgin Active Gym, “The foam roller is basically a deep tissue massage – when it’s done correctly, you are using techniques that will fully massage your muscles. What happens during a foam rolling session is that you are squeezing your muscles and releasing blood flow into them – allowing fresh blood to rush into the muscles to aid the recovery process.”
He added, “Recovery is one of the key benefits of foam rolling. Another is increase of flexibility and the third benefit is performance based – with the rush of blood into the muscles, this reinvigorates the strengthens the muscles and thus the body over time.”
Endurance athletes will benefit from foam rolling
For endurance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes in particular, Adi pointed out that their muscles can be very tight. Added the trainer, “So foam rolling will really benefit this group of people.”
In fact, regular foam rolling can help to heal muscle skeletal disorders and injuries related to runners and triathletes such as IT Band Syndrome, tight glutes and runners knee.
But you do not need to be an athlete to benefit from regular sessions of foam rolling though. Said Adi, “Actually anyone can use foam rolling – in fact, years of daily everyday activities and simply by sitting in the office can tighten the glutes, calves and hamstrings over time; this will eventually restrict the movements in the lower back and soon, the entire body system. Ladies who are required to high heels for work are especially affected.”
Foam rolling is also very safe according to Adi. In fact there are only three groups of people who should not be engaging in foam rolling. These are those with osteoporosis or weak bones, hypertensive patients and pregnant ladies, as the pressure of the foam roller may inadvertently create negative side-effects. But he recommends it for everyone else.
Invited to a foam rolling session by Virgin active gym
To teach Virgin Active Gym members on foam rolling techniques, the gym has recently started offering Stretch and Roll classes. The emphasis of these classes are to leverage on the rising usage and interest of foam rollers amongst its members.
At the class, which was conducted by Adi, participants were introduced to the types of foam rollers available, and the correct methods on how to use the foam roller effectively.
Virgin Active Gym had invited me to attend a session of the class last week. At the session, we did a variety of lower body foam rolling exercises.
These had covered the calves, shins, hamstrings and the thighs and Adi brought us through the various exercises quite slowly, patiently explaining each one and the mechanics of how to do it to us, as he went along.
Added Adi, “And after rolling, it is important to stretch the muscles immediately. After rolling you have lengthened the muscles so then it becomes important to push the blood back into the muscles via stretching. We need to do at least 20 seconds of stretching.”
He also advised the class participants to start rolling with the left side of the body before moving on to the right – because this is the way that the blood flows through the human body.
Pain is okay when foam rolling
I found out at the session that my muscles are very tight – thanks to my running, according to the trainer! It particularly hurt to roll my upper legs – that is, the hamstrings and the thighs and I found myself grimacing and gritting my teeth in an attempt to bear it. However the calves and the shins were less of an issue, fortunately.
Pain is okay when foam rolling, but it depends on the type of pain though, Adi said, “If there is no pain, your muscles are ok and not tensed up. But if you are feeling pain, then there is some problems that you should give some attention to, with regards to tightness and muscle tension.”
Continued Adi, “But if there is a sharp pain or electric sensation, it may not be the muscles that is the issue. it may be something else such as your ligaments or bones. So stop rolling immediately and seek professional help.”
Where to attend a class or buy a foam roller
The Stretch and Roll class is open to all Virgin Active Gym members and sessions are conducted on Monday mornings @ 7.45am, Wednesday afternoons @ 1.20pm and Thursday evenings @ 6.20pm. Each class is about 30 – 45 minutes long.
Those interested in learning more about foam rolling at Virgin Active can book a visit to the club here, http://www.virginactive.com.sg/home/book_a_visit.aspx .
Otherwise you can purchase a foam roller and do the exercises at home. Rollers are available at all sports stores across Singapore, and it will set you back by about $30 – 40 each. And according to Adi, I should probably be getting a foam roller to use, daily!
If you wish to purchase your own foam roller, at a discount, please email email@example.com with your name, phone number and order details – so that you can be linked up to a supplier of foam rollers.