A study from earlier this year compared static stretching, foam rolling and a combination of the two to see if one method was best to increase range of motion. Range of motion is how much movement you have at a joint and static stretching is just what the name implies – a stretch that has no movement, like touching your toes and holding it, for example. Foam rolling, while obviously not my favorite form of myofascial release, is a way to increase range of motion (how far you can move a joint) without decreasing force production. Static stretching can decrease the reactivity of your muscles, so finding a method to improve range of motion without losing performance makes sense.
The researchers found an increase in range of motion for all options (static stretching, foam rolling and static stretching + foam rolling) even when the length of time the intervention was applied was only 3 sets of 30 seconds with 10 seconds of inter‐set rest. They found that the combining foam rolling and static stretching was the most effective at increasing range of motion.
I thought it was very interesting that all three improved range of motion even when the total exposure time was less than 2 minutes – it truly does not take a lot to affect your tissues or nervous system. This information is helpful for athletes or those who are using myofascial release before workouts/activities that even short applications are effective, whether it is with a foam roller or YTU therapy balls.
BUT, across the board the results were short lived – range of motion returned to what it was within 10 minutes. The take home message?
Rolling is not the answer to all of your problems.
GASP! I know, right? The release and relief we get from rolling is short lived. You may have felt this is as you worked on a particularly tight area – it feels great after you roll, but may tighten up within the hour. Rolling only address a piece of the posture and movement pie, but you should be using the window of opportunity post-rolling to train the new range of motion and positions into your brain.
If your chronically tight shoulders are not able to go all the way overhead in full flexion without your spine and ribs going along for the ride, rolling out your shoulders and latissimus dorsi is a great idea. But don’t call it a day after you roll! Use the new flexibility you’ve created through your rolling program to work on strengthening in this new position. If your shoulders are chronically tight, chances are there is an imbalance in your shoulders, with muscles that are on vacation and others that are working overtime and need a break. While your shoulders will return to their most familiar range of motion, training in the post-rolling window may have improved things. Even if the change was only 1% – that’s 1% more than last time, and you can continue to bank the improvement away.
This is why I love teaching my Yoga Tune Up® and Mobility for Performance classes so much. Yes, we could roll the whole time, and sometimes we do, but training within this window offers you the chance to make drastic changes with your pain, posture and ultimately, your performance.
See you on the mat ;)
- October 11: Yoga Tune Up® Weekend! (Black Dog Yoga, Sherman Oaks, CA)
- October 18: Mobility for Performance: Total Body Treatment (CrossFit SolCity, Hollywood, CA)
- November 7: Banish Back Pain (Yoga Vibe at the Village, Glendale Ca)
- November 8: Tackle Your Tension: Total Body Treatment (Unfold Yoga, Brea CA)