Full Guide To Foam Rolling (SMR)

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Foam rolling may just be the most popular form of self massage for strength trainers…but it is not without controversy. Read on for this guide to foam rolling and the current debate.

Foam rolling utilizes a technique called Self-myofascial release (SMR). Muscles contain a proprioceptor called the Golgi Tendon Organ. The GTO is responsible for saving us from a lot of injuries. When a muscle is activated to the point of near injury, the GTO reflex sends a message to shut the muscle down.

Golgi-tendon-organ

Before I break it down, I will throw a little more alphabet soup at you – this is called autogenic inhibition. The Golgi tendon is basically providing the body feedback on muscle tension. Autogenic inhibition is a safety measure to shut muscles down before they provide more force than bones and tendons can handle.

Without getting too complicated, the pressure created by the foam rolling stimulates the GTO and causes the muscle to relax. The brief relaxation will allow for an increased range of motion (ROM) and improve tissue quality (Its important to not only have strong muscles, but also flexible – especially for athletes and anyone that wants to feel better from lifting)(1)

Reduction in soft tissue tension will help restore the muscle’s length-tension relationship.

Benefits of Foam Rolling

I’ll turn to one Integrated Training For The New Millennium by Clark to list the benefits of foam rolling(2):

Address Muscle Imbalances
Increase Joint Range of Motion
Decrease Muscle Soreness While Increasing Joint ROM
Increased Nueromusclar Efficiency
Maintain Normal Muscle Length

– Joe Hashey, CSCS –

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