How Foam Rolling Can Improve Your Flexibility

by Dr. Christopher on March 25, 2011

So you’ve decided you want a bigger butt and now perform squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

Congratulations on that step.

Now you want flexibility ASAP!

Foam Rolling can help you do just that.

The Purpose of Foam Rolling

Foam Rolling serves 2 purposes:

1.  Muscle Relaxation – Just like massage, foam rolling relaxes muscles.  Thinker’s Edge: Your body is filled with cells called ‘mechanoreceptors.’  These cells respond to manual pressure like foam rolling, giving you awareness of where your body is in space.  The chiropractic adjustment is theorized to activate those same cells

2.  Tissue Fluid Dynamics – Moving blood into and out of a body part is generally a good thing.  It allows you to recover faster.  As old blood brings waste products to the kidneys to be filtered out, new blood brings building materials to reconstruct your muscles.

Foam Rolling does not:

1.  Remove Adhesion or Scar Tissue – While foam rolling can help prevent injury or reduce pain, it will not directly get rid of adhesion, which is usually a primary cause of injuries, along with weakness. 

The Protocol

Get yourself a firm foam roller(affiliate link).  The 6″ x 12″ would be sufficient enough, but it should be whole, not half.

The traditional workout should look like this:

Foam Rolling – Dynamic Stretching – Workout – Static Stretching

Foam Rolling is most effective when done first thing in the gym. 

It can also be effective if you feel a specific tightness post-workout and sitting your body on a “tight” spot.

Generally, you want to spend thirty seconds on each body area.

Here’s a video I created explaining how to foam roll.  Please feel free to share any criticism as it’s the first video I’ve done.  I know that I turn my back to the camera.  Please forgive me.

I’ve found that the the back of the hip is the most effective place for me to foam roll.  Where do you notice the difference?

Much appreciation to Eric Cressey for my understanding of the impact foam rolling can make and Mike DelaTorre for his assistance in recording this video and never losing his energizer bunny attitude.

Dr. Christopher Stepien is a chiropractor, chronic pain specialist, and A.R.T. provider, and clinic director of the Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic in Morristown, NJ.  He practices out of Crossfit Morristown.

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