Alex, what’s the deal with foam rolling? I see many players doing it which means it must be good, but why is that? I was sitting next to the bullpen at a major league game last weekend and saw many pitchers roll their back and legs out before they came into pitch. Why are they doing this?
Aaron, this is a great question as there is a lot of misconception regarding what “foam rolling” actually does. Foam rolling, or self myofascia release, is an inexpensive self-massage that is used to restore movement in tight matted down muscles. To help you better understand this concept, let’s talk about what fascia and myofascia does in your body. Fascia is like a spider web that supports nerves, organs, and the vascular system. Myofascia is simply fascia that covers muscles. The problem lies when myofascia becomes restricted in our bodies. This is due to poor breathing, previous or present injury, scar tissue, poor movement patterns, and immobility. When myofascia becomes restricted it leads to a decrease in your ability to move dynamically, or fluidly throughout a range of motion. When you see these pro guys foam rolling before their games or outings they are doing so to improve their movement quality. The better they’re able to move the stronger the positions they are able to get into in their pitching delivery, swing, and sprint. This leads to an increase in performance.
In my playing career SMR (foam rolling) was a GAME CHANGER. I was always a super tight and restricted player, but things really started to change when I spent time before workouts and games improving my soft tissue quality. I was able to move better, my mobility started to improve, I ran faster, and I was able to get into stronger positions in my swing.
How do you foam roll? When I see most guys roll I see them blowing through it at a fast pace. All they’re doing is wasting time. It’s been proven that fascia responds best to SLOW & DELIBERATE movements as well as increasing the PRESSURE. Slow your rolling down and if you can, add more pressure to each muscle your rolling! An easy and safe way you can add pressure is by having a teammate or workout partner give you a little push or put a little bit of their weight on the muscle your rolling.
What do you “roll”? When you perform your SMR (foam rolling) you want to address your tight or restricted areas to improve your performance. For me, I always spent time on my lats, glutes, and calves as they were always so restricted. Tight areas are going to be different for everyone though. Usually everyone has shortened hip flexors from sitting all day so addressing your glutes should be done by virtually everyone, but again it will depend on what YOUR body is feeling and what areas you’re restricted in.
What can you use if you don’t have a foam roller? PVC pipe, Lacrosse Ball, Baseball, Softball, Medicine Ball, Smooth Part of a Barbell.
Hope this cleared up some misconception! If you guys have any more questions shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org