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Foam Rolling Techniques: 4 Steps

Different foam rolling techniques: Why the fuss?

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Different foam rolling techniques: Why the fuss? It seems as though the best way to foam roll is in the name—roll. Rolling back and forth does have some merit and support from the scientific community. In a recently published review of foam rolling, Kalichman and David (2017) examined 42 studies on foam rolling that revealed only a few different techniques being used. The most common was to roll the length of a chosen muscle for a set time. Between one to two minutes was the most common time and participants usually rolled to the beat of a metronome for consistency. Another common technique to use is to “knead” the muscle by performing small back-and-forth motions along the length of the muscle. The last frequently used method, which only appears to show up with foam rolling devices that aren’t actually rollers (e.g., Thera-cane) was to hold pressure on a tender spot. All of these techniques appear to work well at either improving range of motion or decreasing pain.

In another review, Cheatham and colleagues (2015) concluded that there is no current consensus on foam rolling programs. Some studies roll at a slow pace for around two minutes, while others roll so quickly the researchers have to build special devices to hold the roller for only a few seconds! It’s true, Sullivan and colleagues (2013) constructed a device to hold a massage stick. Weights were added for pressure, a metronome was set to 120 beats per minute (that’s rolling the length of the muscle twice in one second), and the hamstrings were rolled for all of five seconds. Three other groups rolled for longer, but no group rolled more than ten seconds. All groups improved range of motion! However, the groups that rolled for longer experienced more improvements and their changes lasted a few minutes longer. Most people agree that rolling is beneficial, but how long should you roll and should you do anything more than simply roll up and down the length of the muscle?

To get a grasp on the origins of foam rolling, we need to go back many years. Depending on what you read, you’re likely to see statements that foam rolling was started by a gymnastics coach, a physical therapist, or the Greek Goddess Aphrodite (Aprhos is Greek for “foam”). (Okay, I’m sure no one ever thinks of the Goddess of Love when foam rolling.) No one knows exactly who started the foam rolling revolution, but we do know that foam rolling began as a way to mimic massage. As a massage therapist, I am aware that a foam roller will never replicate what I can do with my hands. However, it does serve as a suitable alternative for daily use. The big “miss” is that massage incorporates moving from origin and insertion of a muscle as only one of a variety of techniques. Swedish Massage (which can be considered basic) includes five traditional strokes: a) effleurage (gliding); b) petrissage (kneading); c) friction (cross friction); d) tapotement (percussion); and e) vibration (small shaking movements) (Salvo, 2007). If you want to maximize your foam rolling results, try to include different movements into your foam rolling regimen. While not all of the five strokes are easy to replicate with a foam roller, several are possible.

When pressure is applied to muscles, fluid is displaced to another area (much like squeezing a water balloon). When the pressure is removed, fresh fluid and nutrients rush back into the area (Schleip, et al., 2012). Adding additional movements and stretching forces into the area when the pressure is applied can help to maximize the benefit of fluid and nutrient replacement and improve overall movement. Follow the simple four step formula below to ensure you’re making the most of your daily foam rolling.

  1. Search—use the foam roller to slowly (about 1 inch per second) roll the length of the muscle. This gets the muscle prepped, increases circulation, and helps to identify tender spots (adhesions, trigger points, knots)
  2. Destroy—hold pressure on 2-3 of the most tender spots along the length of the muscle. A “tender spot” is something you would rate as a 6-8 on a pain scale of 1-10
  3. Mobilize—while holding pressure, perform a movement different than rolling up and down. Try a cross friction, which is performed by shifting the muscles across the roller. The roller should be made with a surface that will grip the clothing or skin to allow a dragging force to be created (not PVC pipe). Father of Orthopaedic Medicine, James Cyriax stated that cross friction is the best method to reduce adhesions and scar tissue and to restore movement to the muscles (Cyriax, 1982). Another great technique to incorporate is “pin-and-stretch.” Pin-and-stretch is very similar to wringing out a wet towel. While still holding pressure on the roller, move the joint just on the opposite side of the roller. For example, when rolling the calf muscles, perform ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion movements; if rolling the quadriceps or the hamstrings, perform knee flexion and extension.
  4. Flush—finally, finish up by performing a few slow rolling motions to flush out the area. This would be similar to step 1, rolling about an inch per second, but roll the entire length of the muscle and don’t worry about stopping on tender spots.

When rolling to increase the length of a muscle that has been identified as short, follow up with function. Studies have suggested that static stretching after foam rolling is the best way to increase the flexibility (Skarabot, et al., 2015). Additionally, adding length to tight spots doesn’t guarantee optimal function. Vincent et al. (2013) found that for both acute and chronic pain, individuals should follow up with exercise. A few basic exercises concentrated on strengthening weak muscles and total body movements will ensure you and your clients coordinate that newly found mobility into daily activities!

For a more extensive list of foam rolling techniques, strategies, and to find an NASM CEU Approved foam rolling course near you, visit TriggerPoint’s Education page.

 

 

See Kyle Stull live and in person at NASM Optima 2017 as he presents: TriggerPoint Myofascial Compression Techniques for Injury Prevention and Better Movement

 

 

 

References

Cheatham, S.W., Kolber, M.J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015). The effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: A systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(6), 827-838.

Cyriax, J. (1982). Textbook of orthopaedic medicine: Diagnosis of soft tissue lesions (Vol. 1.). London: Elsevier.

Kalichman, L., & David, C.B. (2017). Effect of self-myofascial release on myofascial pain, muscle flexibility, and strength: A narrative review. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 21, 446-451.

Salvo, S.G. (2007). Massage Therapy: Principles and Practices (3rd Ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier.

Schleip, R., Duerselen, L., Vleeming, A., Naylor, I.L., Lehmann-Horn, Zorn, A., et al. (2012). Strain hardening of fascia: Static stretching of dense fibrous connective tissue can induce a temporary stiffness increase accompanied by enhanced matrix hydration. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 16, 94-100

Skarabot, J., Beardsley, C., & Stirn, I. (2015). Comparing the effects of self-myofascial release with static stretching on ankle range-of-motion in adolescent athletes. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(2), 203-212.

Sullivan, K.M., Silvey, D.B., Button, D.C., & Behm, D.G. (2013). Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 8(3), 228-236.

Vincent, K., Maigne, J., Fischhoff, C., Lanlo, O., & Dagenais, S. (2013). Systematic review of manual therapies for nonspecific neck pain. Joint Bone Spine, 80(5), 508-515.

Source http://blog.nasm.org/

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5 Moves to Target the Lower Abs

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It’s no secret that not all exercises that target the lower abs are created equal; some are more effective than others. For anyone that’s wanting to target the lower abs, it can be very frustrating, to say the least. However, targeting and strengthening the lower abs is possible. The trick is finding the best moves for you to build muscle and flatten or chisel the stomach the way you desire.

Also: Why the Glute Bridge Is Great for After an Abs Workout

Move 1: Rolling Plank
The plank in itself is a great move for the stomach area as a whole. However, this rolling plank works the entire core including the lower abdominal. It will also build strength in the lower back.

Here’s how to do it. Start in a plank position with the body making a straight line from feet to shoulders. Rotate the body to a right side plank and hold for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then repeat on the left side. 10 reps are recommended, 5 on each side.

Move 2: Hanging Leg Raise
Deep muscles are worked during this move as well as the lower back and abdominal area. The only equipment necessary is a chin-up bar. Simply hang from the bar with the feet together and knees bent slightly. Bend the knees and raise the hips at the same time and lift the thighs up to the chest. Pause then lower back to the start position. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each.

Move 3: Roll Up
The classic roll-up still can’t be beaten when it comes to the best move to build muscle in the lower tummy. Lay flat on your back, arms stretched straight above the head. Slowly bring them straight up, and raise off the floor to touch the toes. Slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets, 10 reps each.

Move 4: Leg Drop
Lift both legs to the ceiling. Make the abdominals tight then lower the legs slowly until they are a few inches above the floor. When the lower back starts lifting you’ve gone too far. Then raise them back up, and repeat. Do 10 reps and 3 sets.

Move 5: Scissors
Lift both legs straight to the ceiling. Lower the right leg until it’s just a bit off the floor, then switch legs. Do the move quickly with no breaks. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps each. For added benefits lift the head and shoulders off the floor.

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The importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water

Alkaline for the Body

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I am sure that many of you have been told of the importance of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water. What is not as often mentioned is just how alkaline foods and water work to ensure optimal health.

Also: How can I Stay Motivated when it comes to Home Exercise?

To begin with, the consumption of an alkaline diet regulates the body’s PH factor. The body’s PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. When the body’s PH is kept at just above 7.0 a variety of bodily functions work more efficiently. The resulting health benefits are both numerous and of great importance.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water is an excellent buffer against cardiovascular disease. Alkaline diets are great for reducing inflammation, the result of this is often the lowering of both cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water lowers the chronic pain effects for a variety of ailments. Another benefit of an alkaline diet’s inflammation lowering qualities is a great reduction in chronic pain symptoms. Alkaline foods and water can provide significant relief for chronic sufferers of chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and joint pain.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water provides protection of bone density. Alkaline diets provide excellent mineral balance which facilitates bone growth and health. In addition, alkaline diets promote the production of growth hormone and the absorption of Vitamin D which provides further protection for bones.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water reduces the risk of cancer. Alkaline diets provide an abundance of antioxidant protection against cancer. Also, alkaline environments are not conducive to the growth of cancer cells.

– A diet high in alkaline foods and water prevents the development of diabetes. The pancreas is a bodily organ provided with the task of regulating the body’s blood sugar. The pancreas is dependent on an alkaline environment to function properly. One study, focusing on the effects of alkaline water on blood sugar, showed that just a month of drinking alkaline water can bring the blood sugar of diabetics to a normal level.

The health benefits of eating a diet high in alkaline foods and water cannot be understated. I am sure that after reading just a few of these benefits you will agree that making a conscious effort to incorporate alkaline foods and water into your diet is well worth the effort.

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Prevent Muscle Loss During Fasted Cardio with BCAA Supplements

BCAAs to Start Your Day

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Photo by Nicole De Khors

One of the most popular forms of extreme fat loss is fasted cardio. Usually done in the morning, this exercise method consists of working out the body anaerobically on an empty stomach, as opposed to full of calories from prior meals. The benefit of fasted cardio all lies in the specific targeting of fat reserves. More specifically, after eating a large meal, insulin levels are raised within the body. As cortisol levels are very high in the morning, they will target muscle cells with the increase in insulin. However, during a fasted state, those high cortisol levels in the morning can be utilized to target fat reserves as opposed to the muscle as the insulin levels will be greatly diminished during that fasting time. As explained by Men’s Fitness, “if you are fasted, insulin is low and cortisol will then go after body fat reserves”.

Also: Increasing Longevity Through Better Nutrition

For those looking to optimize their fat loss while still maintaining all of their hard-earned muscle, fasted exercise is not the only part of the equation. A healthy amount of Branch Chain Amino Acid’s to start your day will help to maintain all of that muscle that has taken so many dedicated hours in the gym to pack on. BCAA are essentially the very building blocks of muscles themselves. According to Layne Norton, experienced bodybuilder, and Ph.D., “BCAAs not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis”. So not only can this aminos help to you to maintain your muscles, it can also provide your muscles with a greater capacity for growth by targeting the actual muscle cells. But within a fasted state in the morning, we are primarily concerned with the rate of protein breakdown that may occur. Lucky for us, BCAA supplements can answer for this too. BCAA’s are also very capable of decreasing the rate at which protein breaks down. As explained again by Dr. Layne Norton, this can be explained by the aminos “decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway”.

In short, starting your days with a BCAA supplement is a great way to ensure that your muscle gains are not lost during fasted exercise. BCAA’s are one of the most well-researched supplements on the market and therefore finding a wealth of knowledge on them is not difficult. A simple search engine will guide you through a host of well documented and researched information. Additionally, these supplements are easy to find at any local supplement store or more simply online.

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