I’m a big fan of stretching. Well, maybe that needs a qualifier… Let me explain.
I’m a big fan of
- General dynamic stretching before a lifting/running/exercise session
- Specific warm-up sets before lifting heavy
- General static stretching and foam rolling after a session or on off days (or just about any (more…)
This is the second part of a 2-part article by guest author Cameron Stache. See this for Part 1. Cameron currently works as a Fitness Coach/ Assistant Fitness Manager at the Rush Fitness Complex in Greensboro, NC. He’s pursuing his Exercise Science degree and plans to use this degree (more…)
This is the first part of a 2-part article by guest author Cameron Stache. Cameron currently works as a Fitness Coach/ Assistant Fitness Manager at the Rush Fitness Complex in Greensboro, NC. He’s pursuing his Exercise Science degree and plans to use this degree to either work at a large college and be a strength and conditioning coach, or go into ergonomics. If you are interested in brands Cameron supports, check out http://cstache.qhealthzone.com .
The technical name for foam-rolling is Self-Myofacial Release (SMR). Most people just call it by foam-rolling because it’s easier to say and it’s more well-known as that. I am going to refer to it as SMR for short. SMR has been used in physical therapy for years. It has only recently become main stream in the fitness realm though.
SMR is primarily used to correct muscle imbalances in the body. As we go through our normal (outside the gym) lives we develop some imbalances. An imbalance reduces muscle strength and posture, thus increasing your risk of injury, especially when those imbalances are accentuated by heavy loads as in lifting weights.
It works basically like a deep tissue massage. When rolling across a muscle you apply pressure to the muscle spindle. The muscle spindle is what reflexively contracts your muscle when it stretches too far or too fast. (Technically, that’s how your muscle contracts. It doesn’t really shorten. The muscle itself actually lengthens the muscle spindle then contracts it. Some food for thought: While your muscle may appear shorter when it contracts, in one or more of the three planes of motion it may actually be lengthening. That is how your muscle remains tense.) By using the muscle spindle as self-applied force on the muscle, it will cause it to stretch because you are holding a segment in place while it is pulling from the other end of the muscle.
What are the benefits?
There are multiple uses for foam-rolling your muscles. First, there is relief from soreness. A person who foam-rolls targeted muscles after a workout is less sore than someone who didn’t. Second, is for proper posture. Most people really don’t think that this is a big deal. However, as Darrin has stated before, strength is more neurological than it is muscle size. People with less muscle imbalances have better posture. This means that opposing muscles are neither too long, nor too short; thus able to fire with proper effort and timing. That allows for greater neurological communication and further increasing strength, without any lifting at all. The increase in core strength gained by the correct posture also gives the third benefit; injury prevention.
What muscles can be foam-rolled?
There are multiple muscles that can be foam-rolled. When rolling (more…)
It’s great to see mainstream news catching up with the science behind exercise. Usually, I complain about how popular media get it wrong. But here’s a story from The Washington Post that confirms what you’ve heard here on worldfitnessnetwork.com for a while. (And of course, I have only been writing about this because I’ve read about the original studies in the scientific journals, so I can’t really claim credit!). You can read past articles here, here, and here. And related to recovery, check here.
I’ve reprinted the original article, which appeared online on October 30, 2009. It’s pretty long but well-written. The bolding of certain statements is mine.
BY LENNY BERNSTEIN
Washington Post Service
It’s been a long, hard day at the office, and you need a good workout to blow off all that stress. But before you hit the free weights, the stationary bike or the elliptical machine, you spend 10 minutes carefully stretching all those stiff muscles, just as every coach, trainer and physical therapist has advised for as long as you can remember.
You won’t stave off muscle soreness.
You won’t perform better, except possibly if you’re going to do gymnastics or ice-skate. There’s some reason to believe you’ll do worse than if you hadn’t stretched. (more…)