As a personal trainer in Buffalo who encourages clients to use a lacrosse ball or foam roller to loosen up before they get down to business in Buffalo gyms, I thought I’d give you a little insight into why. First and foremost, science says you should. While a warm-up that includes prolonged static stretching can diminish your performance during your actual workout, myofascial release can actually significantly enhance your range of motion (ROM) without negatively impacting your strength, according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
The study, conducted in 2013 by researchers at the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Kinesiology, involved eleven well-trained men. Each was tested on strength using something similar to a leg-extension machine. They followed up by foam rolling for two minutes on their quadriceps, while working to put their whole body weight on the roller. When each finished up foam rolling, researchers retested his strength.
Despite the fact that past studies had found that prolonged stretching and massage can decrease strength, researchers found that foam rolling had no impact on strength. They also found that the foam rolling enhanced the men’s ROM. While knee flexion improved, on average, by 7-10 degrees, some men saw up to a 20-degree improvement. You don’t need to be a Buffalo personal trainer to know this is huge!
An In-depth Look
Foam rolling allows your muscles and soft tissues to return to their natural form. Workouts, injuries, and even daily life can cause knots that limit your performance and mobility. However, foam rolling smashes through these knots, allowing soft tissue to operate properly again, which results in increased ROM and improved performance during workouts.
For optimal results, the study suggests using a foam roller with a PVC core. They are harder than the more popular type of foam roller, which is constructed using a solid piece of foam.
During my time as a personal trainer, I have found that a lacrosse ball is another great option. You can use it just like a foam roller to smash up knots, especially knots that are stubborn and acute.
A Quick Note
Look, I’d be lying if I said myofascial release with a foam roller or lacrosse ball is fun or easy. It hurts, so if you find that you aren’t experiencing at least a little pain, you probably aren’t doing it right.
To me, the biggest advantage of myofascial release is that it places your body into the positions where it can apply the most force during a workout. After all, if your shoulders won’t externally rotate, it’s almost impossible to snatch and if your hips won’t open, back squats are tough.
Here’s my suggestion as a personal trainer in Buffalo: before your next workout, try this out. Perform mobility work on your left arm and then test it against your right arm to see what you’ve gained. You’ll be shocked (and amazed) by the results. Plus, you’ll get even more out of your workout.