Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique. It can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion. Athletes should be aware of the benefits of implementing foam rolling in their daily workout routine.
As tennis players, we try to play as often as possible. Playing a lot of tennis, just like any other sport can take a major toll on your body. We want to make you aware of this so you can keep enjoying this awesome sport.
Once upon a time, this self massage technique was only used by professional athletes, professional coaches and physiotherapists. Nowadays, foamrolling is even popular in amateur sports and that is for a good reason!
Are you ready to increase your athletic performance on the court to win more of matches and to play overall better tennis? Then keep reading!
What is foamrolling exactly?
Foam rolling is also called myofascial release. Now I hear you thinking, what is fascia and why would you ´´release´´ it? Fascia is the thin tissue that connects our muscles together. When fascia is healthy, it´s flexible and slides smoothly over your muscles. Fascia can become unhealthy by for example overuse, injury or repetitive movement.
The healthier the fascia around your muscles, the better you will be able to move.
In tennis we make a lot of repetitive movements such as jumping, running, hitting and maybe even sliding. Typically you are overusing some muscles and underusing others. The muscles that get overused tend to get tight, and a tight muscle doesn´t function well. By including foam rolling into your workout routine you can help yourself to prevent injuries and imbalances.
A foam roller is a cylinder which you can lay on in a variety of positions, allowing your body weight to put focused pressure on affected muscle groups.
3 benefits of foam rolling
- Increases your mobility and range of motion
Poor mobility is often the result of the muscles and fascia becoming shorter, causing muscular trigger points, also known as knots. Shortened muscles then obviously effect range of movement and mobility, whilst trigger points can often cause pain and muscular fatigue. Foam rolling can break up the developed scar tissue and trigger points, allowing these muscles to stretch further and because of that will increase your range of motion.
- Reduces muscles soreness and speeds up recovery
Foam rolling allows built-up scar tissue in the muscles to be broken up, while at the same time increasing blood in to your muscle, providing your muscles with more nutrients and more oxygen. It also eliminates the over production of lactic acid. This results in your muscles feeling and performing a lot better.
Improves your posture
Are you slouching? If you spend much of your days slouched over a desk or steering wheel you can most likely improve your posture a lot. Sitting for long periods of time can cause muscles at the front of your body to tighten. Foam rolling can help loosen them up. Using a foam roller on your spine is an excellent way to straighten-out rounded shoulders.
5 exercises for tennis players to do with a foam roller
- Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds and remember to take your time when rolling and do both sides.
- If you have any pain during or prior to exercise, do not continue until you have consulted a medical professional.
Here are a few lower body exercises to get you started:
- Comfortably sit down with the legs extended in front of you and hands at the side
- Place the foam roller underneath your calf muscle, with the other leg relaxed on the floor
- Raise your hips off the floor and roll yourself forward one to two inches so the foam roller gets closer to your knee
- Slowly move the foam back into the starting position above the Achilles tendon
- In a seated position, extend both of your legs over a foam roller so it is positioned behind the upper part of your legs
- Place your hands to the side or behind you for support and use your hands to lift your hips off the floor
- Ease the hamstring of the leg you are stretching
- Slowly roll back and forth over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee
- Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms
- Place a foam roller at the top of the knees; you can do both legs at the same time, or one leg at a time
- Slowly roll the foam over your quads from above the knee to below your hip
- Sit with your butt on the foam roller
- Bend your knees, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over the opposite knee
- Balance and slowly roll over the glutes until you feel a release of tension
How do you choose a foam roller?
You can find foam rollers in ranges of different sizes, shapes and different levels of firmness. For a foam roller it is better to be too soft rather than too hard.
It may take some trial and error to find the foam roller that’s right for you. Try out different foam rollers before purchasing to find one that is comfortable for you to use.
These are the options which you can use for the myofascial release technique:
- Foam roller
- Massage stick
- Massage balls
Foam rollers vs massage
The question often arises, “What is better, massage therapy or a foam roller? The answer is obvious to me. Hands are directly connected to the brain and can feel. A foam roller cannot feel. If cost does not matter I would have a team of massage therapists constantly on hand. However, this is simply not realistic. Most athletes struggle to get the services of a licensed coach or the expense of a membership of a facility.
Extra tips for foam rolling
- Never roll on a joint
- If an area is simply too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area to gradually loosen the entire area
– Slowly and specifically roll each targeted muscle for 1-2 minutes
– Try to hold tight spots for 30 seconds – any discomfort or tenderness will gradually ease
– Try to relax while foam rolling
– After foam rolling, perform some gentle static stretches to promote further flexibility