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Foam Rollers and Other Effective Tools for Workout Recovery

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Foam roller, tennis ball and other myofascial release tools

You may think soreness and stiffness are just part of a good, hard workout. They can be, but by focusing on your workout recovery, you can help relieve tension and pain in your muscles following a workout.

Self-myofascial release is a massage and stretching tool that releases muscle tension improving flexibility and decreasing soreness. “The goal is to manipulate the density of the muscle tissue to create mobility, decrease tightness and decrease overall soreness,” said Mary Edwards, MS, Director of Fitness and Professional Fitness Trainer at Cooper Fitness Center.

Foam rollers, found in virtually any sporting goods aisle are most commonly used for self-myofascial release. Rubber balls like lacrosse balls can also be used for more targeted, trigger point relief. Trigger point release with a lacrosse ball is more painful, but specifically targets tight muscles and knots. Edwards provides these five tips for self-myofascial release:

  1. Foam rollers can be used on every muscle group. Focus on one muscle section at a time to target major muscle groups. For example, top of the leg, side of the leg, back of the leg, lower back, upper back.
  2. Use slow and controlled movements to roll back and forth across each muscle group 10 to 15 times before moving on to the next muscle group.
  3. Use prior to your workout to improve circulation, treat existing tightness and prepare the body to mobilize itself during exercise.
  4. Use after your workout to improve circulation, aid in recovery, improve flexibility and
    alleviate muscle tightness that occurred during your workout.
  5. Use daily, before and after a workout, or to help with recovery on your rest day. Watch a video demonstration here.

In addition to self-myofascial release, there are other factors important in workout recovery. These include:

  • Nutrition. Thirty minutes after your workout, you need to have something in your system. Food is the best option, although supplements can be used when food isn’t readily available. Consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish what was lost during your workout and rebuild your muscles.
  • Ice. After an intense workout, icing major muscle groups can help reduce soreness and improve muscle recovery.
  • Variety. Mixing up your workout is a key factor in helping your body recover from one workout to the next. Factor in active recovery days after a hard strength-training workout with exercises like yoga, bike riding and cardio.

If you do not keep a focus on workout recovery, your body will easily become fatigued, affecting your overall fitness and ability to exercise. Listen to your body. While aches and pains are normal after a workout, using recovery methods like self-myofascial release will help reduce muscle tension, improve range of motion and improve the overall quality of your workout program.

To learn about training at Cooper Fitness Center with Mary Edwards or a Professional Fitness Trainer, click here or call 972.367.6939.