Before Elaine came to Fitness Transform, she had led an active life, one filled with some of her favorite activities like hiking, swimming, and running. She had always considered herself to be in reasonable shape.
It wasn’t until she injured her back at work lifting patients as a nurses aid, subsequently going through physical therapy and still experiencing pain, that she learned of me and decided to give my studio a try. When she came in, we quickly realized that she did not have a strong core and had weak arms and back muscles that made her prone to injury.
We began to work on correct movement techniques and to slowly build strength. Of course, we first had to get her body prepped to move. To do so, we worked with foam rollers, stretching her muscles, relieving the tension and releasing adhesions.
Elaine found the foam rolling techniques to be incredibly beneficial – so much so that she now owns her own foam roller and practices the stretches at home on a daily basis.
She has now switched from private sessions to small group sessions, and considers her continued journey with me and the Fitness Transform family as a kind of elemental practice – like how you practice the scales when you play an instrument, no matter how proficient and capable you are.
For Elaine and many of my other clients, beginning workouts with foam rollers has enabled them to enjoy and better participate in the outdoor activities they’ve always enjoyed.
Of course, you’re probably wondering how the simple act of rolling can help you not only exercise, but live your daily life – let me explain!
It all goes back to our ancestors. Our ancient genes call for us to be physically active so as to maintain our health and fitness, but today, a sedentary lifestyle is more the norm. Due to sedentism, the muscles of modern humans are often weak and stiff, and the fascia (tissue surrounding our muscles) is tight and restrictive.
Over time, as a result of this chronic tension, we become unable to perform simple functions, such as holding good posture and maintaining our body’s structural integrity. You can see examples of this failure everyday in the rounded shoulders of people who spend much of their time at a computer, or in the painful lower back of people carrying excess body weight. These problems may lead to many of the everyday aches and pains that we complain about as we get older. Pain that we do not have to live with; pain we can easily correct with a few simple changes to our lifestyles.
If bodily pain does not manifest itself during simple everyday activities, then exercise often brings to light any physical issues. For example, when beginning to train, people commonly experience hip or knee pain when attempting simple movements, such as stepping up onto a bench. One factor largely responsible for this pain is muscle tightness, which is one of the most common reasons many of us fail to reach our fitness goals.
How can you avoid this pain and still achieve your goals?
One solution to relieving muscle tension is self myofascial release (SMR). In the term, self myofascial release, myo refers to your muscle while fascia refers to the surrounding connective tissue. This approach helps you to fix problems in both of these areas by relaxing your muscles and releasing adhesions.
So how does self myofascial release work?
SMR involves applying pressure to painful areas of your body and the easiest, most cost-effective tool for performing SMR is a foam roller! Using a foam roller for 1 or 2 minutes to apply pressure to a tight, tender area of your muscle will cause golgi tendon organs (GTO) to respond by stimulating muscle spindles to relax the muscle. This will help to release adhesions, increase bloodflow to the area and improve the quality of the surrounding tissue, which will help you to move more easily while experiencing less pain.
Though at first it may take focus and patience, you will immediately notice an increase in your range of motion following an SMR session. This increased mobility will allow you to exercise and perform daily activities with ease, and, in turn, look and feel healthier.
It’s simple, it’s quick, and it’s not worth skipping!
As you begin to feel better in your body, you will want to do more playful activities, such as walking on the beach or taking a dance class, both of which are enjoyable ways to help increase fat loss and improve your fitness. Soon you will have overcome the disadvantages of a sedentary lifestyle as you reap the benefits our ancestors gained from their highly active lifestyles.