You may or may not have seen those "foam sticks" or foam rollers at your gym, fitness studio, physical therapy/ chiropractic office, stores, or in a home. For those of you that are wondering what those are and what they are used for, they are used as a mobility tool. That brings us to the second question, what is Mobility?
That term may have been tossed around without you fully understanding what it means. Well, according to the good ol' internet, Google defines "mobility" as:
the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
"this exercise helps retain mobility in the damaged joints"
The reason why I'm choosing to talk about mobility on RowClub's blog is that I would like to connect the importance of why being mobile will not only make you a better rower but it can also improve the range of motion (ROM) of our muscles and joints. It can also help with improving our posture and with specific mobility training; one can alleviate certain aches and pains while improving one's body awareness too. Sounds like a Win-Win right? I'm going to give you my 4 reasons why I think you should implement mobility training into your fitness routine and why you should pick up a foam roller today if you don't have one already.
1. It's a great warm-up and recovery tool for workouts.
o Tight muscles can pull on joints and cause pain. Rolling on a foam roller will help break up the adhesions inside of the targeted muscle to alleviate soreness and increase range of motion. Foam rolling will also increase blood flow to the target areas as well. You can also increase the temperature tissue, increase the ROM, turning on the nervous system to the body, and connecting the mind to the body.
2. It will help with injury prevention.
o When you increase the range of motion in joints with proper mobility, you are able to perform an exercise closer to the restored full range of motion. Foam rolling can also increase muscle recruitment activity that will allow your muscles to be more efficient; therefore perform at a higher intensity. Reduce tension, stress and to become more fluid with movement
3. Can be used as an assessment tool to develop specific mobility programs
o Evaluate the body through movement to create the mobility program specific for increasing mobility in to get into better position. You can prep the body for specific movements by analyzing certain positions through the movement to create a solution to get into a safer and more stable position.
Example: Take a hamstring ROM assessment for example.
Lay on your back, keep both legs flat on the floor and then lift one leg upwards to see how far it may go. If there is some difficulty straightening out your knee at the 90-degree position, that is an indication that your hamstring on that leg is tight, there for it’s not allowing you to straighten out. Once that assessment is completed, we can perform some hamstring specific mobility exercises to increase the ROM in that restricted hamstrings
4. Stretching is not always enough.
o While static stretching and yoga are great ways to stretch the muscles, they do not break up adhesions in your connective tissue. When you move (workout), the fibrous tissues in your body become stuck together. These stuck together tissues are usually called adhesions, trigger points, or “knots”. Stretching is beneficial but not enough to release the tension in these knots. We usually ask specialists such as massage therapist or anyone who specializes in myofacial release to help with this process but we owe it to ourselves to be able to perform basic maintenance on our body with a foam roller / lacrosse ball.
I hope by after reading this article, you have a better or revised understanding about the foam roller. So next time you are in sore, warming up, or cooling down, hop on the foam roller and get to work on those knots!