Foam Rolling for Exercise Recovery

As we work out, our exercised muscles are contracted—which means they are shortened in order to make them stronger. But for overall fitness, any muscle that is shortened must be lengthened again to reduce injury and that awful next-day ache, and also to aid in its recovery so you can work it out again. Naturally, stretching is one important way to accomplish this. But foam rolling is another recovery technique to put in your fitness arsenal.

What Does Foam Rolling Do?

Using a foam roller to isolate tight muscles and “knots” is a form of self-myofascial release (SMFR). Myo- relates to muscles, and the fascia is a type of connective tissue that groups the muscles together. As muscles are worked, buildup in the fascia causes adhesions, or “knots.” So techniques like deep-tissue massage or foam rolling aim to break up these knots and restore healthy function, as well as reduce pain. The “self” part of the equation means that with a foam roller you can perform a number of therapies to your muscles without the assistance of another person.

Ooh! or Ouch?

When we think of massage, relaxation and comfort are usually top of mind. But there definitely is a difference between a “spa” massage and a therapeutic massage. So this is also very true of foam rolling. If you’ve got a nagging knot in your muscle, foam rolling won’t exactly feel relaxing. It might outright hurt. However, with proper technique you can control the intensity of the stretch/release—and it’s important that you do. When it comes to working out, “no pain, no gain” is unwise advice (though exercisers need to understand the difference between a “good ache” and actual “pain”—the latter can lead to injury, while the former might make a coach say, “Suck it up, Buttercup”). The same is true with stretching and SMFR. Cautiously pressing a knot into the foam roller allows for control; pushing into an acceptable level of discomfort—on the edge of pain—in order to get the knot to release will be beneficial. Going past that could actually increase or introduce injury.

Getting the Most Out of Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a great therapeutic choice both before and after a workout. If muscles are cold (pre-workout), it can be great for adjusting the spine and loosening up joints. Intensive muscle manipulation should be reserved for warm muscles.

Target Areas

Many muscle groups are great candidates for foam rolling, but these are some great places to start and find relief:

  • Back: using a roller both perpendicular and parallel to the spine can provide beneficial relief and even adjustment.
  • Calves: release the often-used lower leg muscles with controlled releas.
  • Inner and Outer Thighs: the adductors (inner) and iliotibial (IT) band can become very unbalanced particularly for those who work desk jobs (or other seated work). Releasing these muscle knots will make workouts more effective at building strength and balanced musculature.
  • Lats: you’ve probably not felt the knots in your side muscles until you’ve tried to work them out with a foam roller! A tough start… but so effective.
  • Glutes: work that booty… and then stretch that booty. Work out the knots and you’ll be grateful you did.

Learn more about the science and practice of foam rolling from some of these sources, and consider adding it to your well-rounded fitness regimen!

Talk to our instructors and trainers for more information on balancing muscle contraction and stretching for well-rounded fitness!

Read More

Choosing Your Personal Trainer

As our culture becomes more fitness-conscious, the services offered by gyms continue to improve in quality. But it’s more than just high-end machines and equipment. Gyms like ours also offer fun, engaging, and effective group classes and small group or one-on-one personal training.

As training and group fitness started to rise to popularity, it seemed anyone could be a “trainer”—and that almost anyone was. But fitness expert Walter Thompson PhD (president of the certification body ACSM) says, “Overall, people who work in the fitness industry are much more accountable and professional than previously.” And this is great news for anyone who wants to train and transform their body in a safe environment and under the guidance of a qualified coach. [···]

Read More

The Boom of Group Fitness

Group fitness classes are a common offering in many gyms these days (including ours), with industry leaders like Les Mills, Pilates, and Zumba offering formats for fitness clubs large and small, alongside staples like yoga, strength training, and cardio equipment. But where did this phenomenon come from, and why is it a great way for you to get—and stay—fit? [···]

Read More

Myths & Truths about Stretching

Opinions about stretching are almost as varied as the exercises out there to be performed. Some positive, some negative, and many with just enough of a mix of right and wrong to really hurt somebody. So let’s get down to the plain facts about stretching (and bust some myths). By applying them to your fitness regimen, you’ll likely see your mobility, flexibility, comfort, and even overall health improve. [···]

Read More

When to Replace Your Workout Shoes

What is the most important gear any avid exerciser can invest in? Without a doubt—it’s shoes. Some types of workouts require other equipment, but even if you’re exclusively doing cardio and bodyweight training, you still need shoes. $20 discount store shoes won’t do, either. You don’t get replacement feet after you’ve worn them out, so what you put on them as you set your body in motion definitely matters. We’ve talked before about choosing shoes that offer the right types of support and motion for a variety of exercise types (for example, shoes that are ideal for running will not do so well for dancing). But after “what do I buy?” the next most important question is “when do I throw them away?” [···]

Read More

What You Need to Know About the New Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels show up at the earliest stages of a fitness journey. Learning to read them is critical to making informed and healthy decisions when buying (and consuming) food. Over the years, the nutrition facts label plastered over everything that lives on grocery store shelves has gone through some change, but it’s been awhile since a dramatic update has occurred. So get ready… a big overhaul is on the horizon. And to support your healthy lifestyle, here is what you need to know. [···]

Read More

Introducing LES MILLS GRIT™!

Did you know that one of the most effective things you can do to your body is… confuse it?

Keeping your muscles—including your heart—guessing, is a powerful way to see fast fitness results. And a popular method we’ve just added at Club 14 Fitness is HIIT training, courtesy of the LES MILLS GRIT™ class. [···]

Read More

The History of BODYPUMP™

We love Les Mills BODYPUMP™ around here! It’s one of several outstanding group fitness classes we offer to both motivate and enjoy working out and making our bodies better. In just a few days we will gather for an energizing and exciting workout right outside Club 14 Fitness. It’s more than just a chance to get members and fitness enthusiasts together, but a celebration of the 100th release of BODYPUMP™! So exactly what is this workout we’re so excited about? [···]

Read More

Awesome Fitness Gifts for Your Favorite Exerciser

The Christmas and holiday shopping window is nearly closing, but thanks to extended local store hours and free expedited shipping specials, you can still pick up some cool gifts for your favorite exercisers—avid athletes and average gym buffs alike. Check out these handy fitness-friendly gifts—and you may even want to pick up one for yourself! [···]

Read More

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

Water is essential for life and health, and experts and gurus constantly encourage us to drink more and more of it. Keep hydrated, flush the body of impurities, replenish after a workout, even support weight loss. But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Can you drink too much water? [···]

Read More