We all know how important stretching is to keep muscles limber and joints moving through their full range of motion. But did you know it’s equally important to foam roll for fascial release and to help keep your muscles and joints working optimally?
If you’re wondering what fascia is, it’s a broad band of fibrous connective tissue that runs through the entire body and through muscles allowing for shape and support. It looks like cobwebs laying over muscles and it is involved in all parts of motion and also forms the lines of stress or patterns of use that are created by muscle contraction.
Fascia will determine the length and function of muscles it surrounds and also has tons of sensory nerve-endings, which is why when it is restricted (or you are rolling it out trying to loosen it up) it feels painful. It is important to roll out and break up fascia to avoid becoming “muscle bound” which is a term for when the fascia surrounding the muscles becomes so tight and restricted it inhibits the muscles from full range of motion and contraction. If you have ever felt stiff after sitting for a long period of time and need to stretch when standing, that stiffness comes from tight fascia.
Having tight muscle fascia causing muscle binding, forces neighboring muscles to pick up the slack, and this is often where imbalances, weaknesses and injuries begin to develop. Aside from the problems imbalances bring, the surrounding helper muscles that are picking up the slack aren’t designed to contract and release in exactly the same direction as the restricted muscle(s). This causes the helper muscles to become strained or chronically overworked which can lead to injury causing more adhesions and more restrictions. You can imagine how this cycle could repeat itself to the point of acquiring such a bad injury that you are forced to rest which is why it is important to stretch and foam roll to keep muscles moving as they were meant to and the chances of injury lower.
Start stretching for at least 10 minutes a day and foam roll for about 10 minutes every night before going to bed or when it’s the most convenient for you! You will notice improvements in muscle movement, flexibility, and likely even less muscle and joint pain!