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Pre-Exercise Foam Rolling – to do or not to do, that is the question…..

By Gerard Minihane, Head of Physiotherapy Department at Bodylogics and Lead Sports Therapist.

Foam rolling in recent years has become common practice for sportsmen of all levels. You will often see them in gyms or in corners of sports ground dressing rooms. Although they have become common practice and you’ll often hear people bragging about using them and how AMAZING they are, people don’t always know how to use them effectively or more specifically when to use them, for how long or how often. This is where my expertise is perhaps more knowledgeable than the ordinary gym goer. Having completed my dissertation in this field, I wish to share with you some of the key knowledge I developed through my study. For those interested, my dissertation titled ‘The acute effects of foam rolling duration’s on hamstring performance parameter’.

Foam rollers can be used for more than just muscle soreness/tightness or as some people know it “DOMS’. This of course can be a key tool to self-maintenance and preventing injury but in this blog post I want to talk specifically about the benefits of pre-exercise foam rolling and why it benefits you. I would first like to pose a question to people – ‘when you warm up, do you use static stretching as part of your warm up or perhaps the only part of your warm up?’ Before I belittle static stretching, it is a very important tool and an essential part of maintaining a healthy body. However, pre-workout static stretching has been known to decrease muscular performance although it does increase range of motion (ROM). I have mentioned this because pre-workout foam rolling will give you increased ROM without the decrease in muscular performance. Now you will ask ‘how long do I need to foam roll for this to happen?’ The answer is not very long – 2 x 1min bouts of slow controlled rolling of a particular muscle is more than enough. So, my advice to you is to come in 10mins earlier, spend some time foam rolling your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes during your warm up and see how it can benefit your sessions. I must warn however, this is not a replacement for a full warm up, it is a tool you can use to compliment your warm up.

For further information on the benefits of foam rolling please feel free to reach out to me or follow our Clinic page on Instagram @bodylogics_sports_therapy for more great posts about how you can get the most from your body.

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