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Tips for Movement and Long-Term wellness

At WOW! Mobility, we believe that the secret to long-term wellness lies in finding a holistic answer to many of life’s issues. For example, when daily mobility and movement is combined with the amazing power of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet and plants, including essential oils, the aching, tired, wounded and frazzled parts of the body can begin to heal and regenerate.

Of course, whenever you exert yourself physically, there are always repercussions. For many people, tired and sore muscles, stiff joints, aches and pains go hand in hand with physical activity.

If you’ve ever been in a gym, sporting goods store or even the fitness aisle at Target, you’ve probably seen a foam roller. If you felt confused about how to use one, you’re not alone. While becoming more mainstream, foam rollers still remain a mystery to many people, even fitness professionals.

Foam roller exercises, also known as myofascial release, is a massage style that that can be utilised before exercise to loosen up sore muscles and tight joints, or after a workout, in an effort to assist with muscle recovery. Self-myofascial release techniques have gained popularity for good reason. As we gain a better understanding about the healing benefits of soft tissue care, or massage, it’s become clear that foam-rolling is an affordable alternative to more cost-prohibitive therapy options. Unless you are a seasoned athlete or just have a lot of disposable income, you probably opt infrequently for a massage because you see it as a luxury or a splurge more than a necessity.

Whether you are a triathlete, cross-fitter, gym junkie, body-builder or just a casual jogger or weekend warrior, muscular pain happen. When it does, it’s important to be equipped with a range of knowledge and tools that can help reduce inflammation. Dynamic stretching and foam rolling before and static stretching after periods of activity can be one of the most beneficial activities you can do for your muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

 

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5 Reasons Foam Roller Works

While there are many reasons to add foam rolling to your daily routine, let’s briefly look at 5:

1. Increased joint range of motion and flexibility

Stretching has always been regarded as the standard method to decrease muscular tightness and improve flexibility prior to physical activity. New research, however, indicates that the use of foam roller exercises before commencing an activity can lead to an increase in flexibility.

2. Improved circulation

Blood carries oxygen throughout the body so efficient circulation is crucial to overall long-term health. In many cases, a decrease in our circulation can lead to multiple issues such as loss of sensation, impaired cognitive ability and a negative impact on immune health.  Myofascial release can improve circulation by breaking up the tight areas of the body where blood flow may become restricted.

3. Stress relief

Foam rolling exercises are known to help reduce stress after physical exertion. In fact, studies have indicated that myofascial release can actually lower cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone)!

4. Reduce exercise-related soreness

Whether you’re an experienced athlete or a weekend warrior, you’ve probably felt your fair share of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Put simply, DOMS is the pain and stiffness you experience in your muscles that typically sets in 24–48 hours after a challenging workout.

Some research indicates that foam rolling can drastically decrease that creeping soreness! This type of self-release therapy may mean you don’t need to spend the day after exercise stuck on the lounge because your legs hate you!

5. Prevent injury

Prevention is always better than cure! A regular and consistent addition to your daily routine of  proper stretching teamed with foam rolling may prevent many injuries associated with tightness and overuse.

In the case of iliotibial band syndrome, the iliotibial band runs from the top of the leg by your hip to just below your knee and tends to be prone to injury, especially in runners. Just a word of warning though: You can do more harm than good with poor foam rolling technique! Foam rolling an area that’s already  inflamed can potentially increase inflammation and actually result in the very opposite effect you are trying to achieve.

In addition to stretching the body before and after physical activity, there are many other tools you can use to assist the body to become more responsive and receptive. Lower intensity forms of exercise and movement such as pilates, yoga and t'ai chi are effective ways to ensure your musculoskeletal system remains strong and flexible as these movements help extend range of motion and amplify your state of energy. With a focus on breath, control and flow, they may also provide vast emotional, spiritual and social stimulation via methods of relaxation, meditation and mindfulness, all of which are crucial to anyone who values the importance of daily exercise and motion. 

Ultimately, when we experience pain-free movement and mental clarity, true stability, strength and fulfillment can be achieved.