Self Myofascial Release (SMR)... sounds fancy right? Well actually, its just the proper name for self-massage, whether that be using a massage gun, tennis ball, your hands, or in this case a foam roller to relieve muscle tension and knots without having to spend crazy amounts on expensive gadgets! Using a foam roller isn't hard, and can be done by anyone - not just sportspeople - so, I've put together my top tips and stretches to guide you through foam rolling, and why we should try to include it far more often within our weekly routine.
I will say at this point that although there's a great understanding of the benefits, and how to use a foam roller, there's still a fair amount of research going on within this area to compare it to other methods of SMR and recovery. Fairly obviously, I would say that a beginner to exercise would perhaps not roll their muscles as often as a pro-athlete, yet there's nothing to say we shouldn't do it. In fact, using a foam roller as part of a warm up, alongside cardio exercises and some static stretches, even a novice can follow guides on how to roll. You could alternatively use it as part of your cool down, or on rest days for muscle groups that are starting to feel a little tight - whether from exercise or repetitive daily tasks such as sitting at a desk.
Understandably, some people shy away from a roller due to the horror stories of the pain that is sometimes felt. At first, rolling over a tight muscle or knot within the muscle spindles can feel like you're rolling over a bruise, and admittedly, it's not the most pleasant feeling to start with. However, once you have gently worked through the adhesion, the body starts to relax and (believe it or not) foam rolling can feel like a godsend for recovery!