By: Kerry Gustafson, LAT, ATC, LMT — Superfeet Wellness Panel Member. Kerry Gustafson is the owner and visionary of Prime Sports Institute, a multi-disciplinary sports medicine clinic focused on helping individuals maintain healthy, active lifestyles through a comprehensive approach to wellness. An athletic training for more than 19 years, Kerry's specialties include the evaluation and rehab of injuries, running gait analysis and screenings to identify imbalances, mobility and movement dysfunctions.
Think of foam rolling as a DIY massage. Having tools at the ready provide effective interventions for enhancing joint range of motion and pre and post-exercise muscle performance. These tools can enhance post-exercise muscle recovery and reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS).
Stiff and tight muscles are often the most obvious sign that you have been working your body hard. Endurance activities involve many thousands of repetitions of the same or very similar movements. This repetition often results in acute inflammation of these muscles, which you perceive as stiffness and soreness. The inflammation actually stimulates some of the adaptations to the training, but it can be too much of a good thing.
A recent study by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University showed that as little as 10 minutes of deep-tissue massage had a dramatic effect on speeding healing. The thigh muscles they studied in participants showed microscopic tears and inflammation after exhausting themselves on stationary bikes, but just 10 minutes of massage reduced signs of inflammation. Massaged muscle cells were also better able to make new mitochondria, which promote faster recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.
Since affording daily massage isn’t a reality for most, self-massage with various tools, like foam rollers, can be therapeutic.
At Prime Sports Institute, we see those who ski tour are tightest in the quads, hamstrings, hips and glutes. We instruct people to foam roll each major muscle group for 60-90 seconds to get the benefits mentioned above. Rolling daily is beneficial to keep the tissues healthy. It may be uncomfortable for the first couple weeks, but it eventually becomes tolerable when the tissues adapt.