Foam rolling has been around for decades! Since the 1980s’ athletes, dancers, and physical therapists have been using foam rollers as a way to treat sore muscles and gain better flexibility.
Foam rolling is defined as a self-myofasical release (SMR) technique to inhibit overactive muscles. It is even called a form of “stretching,” (Wikipedia). The National Academy of Sports Medicine defines foam rolling as a form of “corrective flexibility.”
What does a foam roller do?
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SMR (self-myofascial release) or MFR (myofasical release) utilizes a dense foam roller to roll over a particular muscle or muscle group to identify the tender spots.
Once the tender area is found, the idea is to apply pressure to that area for 30-60 seconds, or until 75% of the tenderness dissipates.
Blood flow to the muscle improves and better extensibility is achieved.
The implication is that foam rolling releases these trigger points and breaks up adhesions in the muscles to relieve pain.
However, anyone who has ever practiced SMR will verify that it can really, really hurt. So why is something that is supposed to help, hurt so much?
No pain = no gain?
According to strengthandconditioningresearch, studies show that, “SFM causes an increase in short term flexibility that lasts for more than ten minutes, but does not affect athletic performance acutely.”
The study also states, “The mechanism by which SFM affects flexibility and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is unclear.”
In other words, foam rolling needs some clarification.
Let’s talk about the foam roller
There is a wide array of foam rollers available on the market from hard rollers to soft, from rollers with handles to rollers that vibrate. The most common found in just about every fitness facility, are white or black.
They are made from polyethylene foam and are what most physical therapists and fitness professionals use for SMR. I can attest that they are really hard.
Thankfully, we have evolved since the 1980s and we understand a lot more about our bodies.
The MELT method uses a soft roller and balls to tap into the connective tissue and nervous system. This is what Sue Hitzmann, MELT’s creator, calls our “autopilot.”
The connective tissue system is a network of fascia that permeates everything in the body including our muscles, bones, joints, organs etc.
Everything in the body, from top to toe and skin to bone, is surrounded in fascia. And it is this system that science now shows where unmanaged stress accumulates.
Where does the stress come from?
Stress comes from repeated physical patterns such as sitting all day. It comes from our daily activities and the sports or workouts we engage in.
It also comes from emotions and thoughts. It comes from anything in our internal or external environment that if left unmanaged or unprocessed, will get stuck in our connective tissue.
Unmanaged stress shows up as stiff joints, poor posture, limited mobility and flexibility, disrupted sleep, poor digestion, and lack of energy.
If left unaddressed, unmanaged stress turns into inflammation and chronic pain that affects everything else we do. So we’ve moved beyond just sore, inflexible muscles.
We now have an understanding of how stress manifests and wreaks havoc in the body.
The good news is we can manage this accumulated or stuck stress by using a soft roller.
So, how to manage stress accumulation precisely?
By applying simple techniques to an extremely intelligent system that’s responsible for overall grounding, protection, stabilization, support, and responsiveness, we can unlock stuck stress and bring the body back to optimum efficiency and balance.
It is known as the “chi” body, “ki” body, “prana” body, or “mana” body. It responds well to soft compression as well as lengthening techniques that are employed using a roller that does not put us in pain to get out of pain.
Activating the connective tissue
By applying soft compression to specific areas, we bring fluids to unresponsive and dehydrated connective tissue.
Using soft compression quiets the nervous system and enhances the body’s natural rest and repair mechanism to improve the way we feel, and the way we move.
MELT allows us to assess ourselves, apply the techniques, and then reassess ourselves to sense the changes we’ve made. MELT therefore strengthens our mind/body connection and overall body awareness.
Foam Rolling benefits
When considering the benefits of foam rolling, one must ask, “What is the goal? What do I wish to achieve?” Traditional SMR and The MELT Method are not incompatible, in competition with, or the opposite of each other.
They are different techniques that attain different goals. I have trained in, and applied both techniques to myself and others.
If the goal is to strictly address muscles and blood flow, perhaps SMR is your option.
Note that there is a level of discomfort and pain involved, especially when using a hard roller.
If the goal is to improve overall performance and/or get out of pain, I highly recommend The MELT Method.
The roller is soft, therefore no discomfort, and the results are profound.
One can improve not just blood flow to muscles, but the fluid state of one’s connective tissue that supports everything in the body.
MELT improves energy, mobility, flexibility, posture, sleep, digestion, and has been shown to slow down the aging process. For more information please visit my profile page for further details and links.
Connect with Expert Talie Melnyk