The Foam Roller, your new best friend.

foam roller

The Foam Roller, your new best friend.

Muscle soreness, tightness and even injury are all things that can easily get in the way of your next training session. This can unfortunately lead to inconsistencies, lack of motivation and excuses in your weekly exercise regime.
Introducing the Foam Roller, your new best friend and gym buddy.
The foam roller is a type of self-myofascial release in which you apply pressure to certain body parts to relieve pain. The foam roller can help reduce post-workout muscle soreness, prevent and aid in the healing of injuries, lengthen muscle fibers, reduce stiffness and tightness and help with rehabilitation. A study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation found that foam rolling significantly increases range of motion and with the combination of static stretching and foam rolling led to the greatest flexibility improvements.

As we age, we lose elasticity in our joints and connective tissue—and suddenly, we can end up feeling pain while doing the simplest of tasks, like walking up the stairs. Research shows that a massage can reduce stiffness and soreness by more than 40%. There is now an even better and cheaper way to reduce and even rid ourselves of aches and pains. In walks the Foam Roller.

Foam rollers are inexpensive and with a bit of experimentation we can target just about any muscle group. There are a variety of rollers out there from your standard Flat Surface roller, to the Firm Roller, the Rumble Roller or just recently the Grid Foam Roller. They each have a unique design and construction that provides a range of different pressures, intensity and/or more targeted trigger point self massage.

foam-roller-types

How It Works

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps (like glad wrap) and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Both muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system.
There are various reasons why the muscle and tissues can become stuck together, this is called an adhesion and it is usually results in restricted movement. It can cause soreness, stiffness and a reduced flexibility or range of motion. These symptoms are a product of things like disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries.
Myofascial release is a technique in which a practitioner (or foam roller) uses gentle, sustained pressure on the soft tissues while applying traction to the fascia. This technique results in softening and lengthening (release) of the fascia and breaking down scar tissue or adhesions between skin, muscles and bones.
There are plenty of trainers and physical therapists who regularly use and prescribe this inexpensive, long tube they call their secret weapon against pain. In summary it is very similar to an old-fashioned rubdown, using a roller breaks up fibrous tissue and boosts circulation so you are less sore. This is because foam rolling increases blood flow to the areas that needs it.

 

A Quick Glance At The Routine

Equipment and space needed:

A open floor space big enough to perform stretches and be able to use the foam roller effectively. One foam roller either 18-inch, 36-inch is fine.
You can purchase foam rollers at your local sports store or come and see us at Think 24hr fitness.

Frequency:

I would recommend incorporating this in your gym routine every time as part of an active warm up. You can either work on the part of the body you are about to workout, work on an area of your body that need the most attention or do a full body roll out each time. The choice is yours. At minimum I would recommend using a foam roller 3 times per week to reduce stiffness and tone muscles.
The foam roller can be used before, during and after any workout. My preference is definitely to use it before my workout. I then add in some dynamic stretching and im good to go. Remember to always do some static and/or PNF stretching after your workout as this will help with lengthening the muscles out, reduce the stiffness and help you keep your mobility and flexibility.

How to do it:

Begin each move by lying with a part of your body on top of the foam cylinder, then roll slowly in both directions until you find a tender spot. Hold for about 30-60 seconds, or until you feel the muscle (and sore spot) relax, then continue down the length of the muscle until you find another knot; repeat 3 to 5 times. You can also roll back and forth along the specific muscle to massage out any tightness, increase the circulation and to help increase flexibility. Its always a good idea to stretch out the areas you have worked on after you have foam rolled.

Point to note:

If while using the foam roller you are unsure on if you are using it right, you feel any pain or discomfort which you feel is not normal. Please see a professional for some advise. Safety first is a smart approach to any health and fitness regime.

 

BODY, MIND & SOUND

Yoga, Meditation, Hypnotherapy, Sound Therapy……… Why ?

yogameditationhypnotherapy sound therapy

Yoga

Few exercise modalities offer such scope for health improvement as yoga. Yoga exquisitely blends techniques which promote muscle tone, flexibility, proper breathing, mental clarity, stress relief and peace. Whilst yoga was traditionally used as a path to spiritual enlightenment, yoga is valuable to people of all faiths and is practiced more commonly in western society for its physical benefits. However, many people find as they delve deeper into their practice that there is an attraction to explore their mind/body/spirit connection.

yoga

An essential aim of yoga is to harmonize the body and mind through breath and movement. Significant mental focus is required to perform yoga postures, which effectively clears the incessant ‘chatter’ in our minds. Full movement also massages vital organs and promotes detoxification and oxygenation from head to toe.

In addition to general health benefits such as strength, flexibility and relaxation, yoga can be applied therapeutically. Back pain, arthritis, hypertension, headache, pre-menstrual tension and asthma can be improved under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher. An advantage of yoga is that people of all ages and fitness levels can work at their individual intensity to attain benefit. The emphasis is not on what you can do, rather on how you do it and how often you practice. Results are surprisingly swift to manifest and people soon feel lighter, happier and healthier.

 

Meditation

meditationWe live in such a fast paced world that we rarely take time for ourselves. This type of a lifestyle can build up and store stress and anxiety in the body which over time can lead to illness. Relaxation and meditation rids the body of accumulated stress (both mental and physical) while strengthening the entire mind-body system to work more efficiently. Taking up regular forms of relaxation and meditation can promote not only improved health but also greater clarity, energy, mental awareness, confidence and creativity and fulfilment in life.

Whilst it may be true that meditation is strongly espoused in many eastern philosophies, people of any religion can practice meditation and derive considerable health benefits from it. With commitment, perseverance and regular practice, meditation can produce life-changing positive effects. By creating time and space to honor our basic need for stillness, we can transform our mental state, emotions, physical well-being and subsequent experience of life.

The stress of internal ‘mental gibbering’ is deeply entrenched in our existence. Tragically, we have forgotten the simple pleasure of releasing our worries and finding the underlying thread of peace in each moment. That is not to say that we should ignore stressors and negative influences in our lives. However, mentally agonising over our problems is counter-productive to health and well-being. Meditation can very effectively halt the vicious cycle of obsessive worry.

Still feeling cynical? Science, the very epitome of cynicism, is even acknowledging the benefits of regular meditation. Meditation has been found to balance our brains’ alpha and theta waves, thus enhancing the synergy of our creative and logical cognitive faculties. Meditators exhibit superior pain resistance to electric currents administered to the skin. Research also indicates that meditation can enhance sleep quality, mood, memory, blood pressure, mental alertness, migraines and headaches, posture and stress tolerance.

Whilst meditation involves the release of all conscious attachments, visualisation can be used therapeutically to direct and accelerate an intention to heal. ‘Guided imagery’ during relaxation can be a powerful tool to direct the body towards deeper healing. This re-affirms your mind and body’s intent to move towards better health. ‘Visualisation’ is also a powerful stress-reducing tool and is a good introductory platform for beginners if meditation feels too difficult initially.

 

Hypnotherapy

hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy has a fascinating history spanning hundreds of years. Perhaps most interesting though, is its application for inducing surgical anaesthesia. Dr James Esdaile has been most famously credited for using hypnotherapy to perform over 300 painless operations in the early nineteenth century. Since then, hypnotherapy for surgery has been abandoned in favor of chemical anaesthesia.

Hypnotherapy is a deep state of relaxation. This trance-like serenity has been likened to the twilight zone between sleep and consciousness, where an individual is aware of their environment but reluctant to move. In this state, a person is more attuned with their sub-conscious thoughts and emotions and is also more receptive to positive suggestion.

Professional hypnotherapists can assist with numerous health and emotional issues. Hypnotherapy can be used to break harmful habits, promote healing and regress into past experiences to address unresolved issues. In this manner, hypnotherapy has been reported to successfully improve conditions such as ulcers, migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, depression, uncontrollable appetite, stress and anxiety, phobias, skin disorders, addictions and pain.

 Sound Therapy

Music is a powerful medium that can profoundly influence our mood, brain function and health. Positive music can uplift, inspire, motivate, heal and flood us with feelings of well-being. Music can liberate emotions that we have buried and may be contributing to ill-health.

sound waves

Science is progressively discovering how this music phenomenon works. Researchers are finding that the brain’s electrical signals are strengthened or weakened in accordance with our mood and thus by altering our brain’s electrical waves through sound therapy, we can also influence our state of mind and health.

The pioneering work of experts such as John Levine demonstrates that music therapy can be channeled towards achieving particular health outcomes. Certain music can induce a predominance of alpha brain waves, akin to the experience of deep relaxation upon awakening from sleep. Conversely, other music can suppress alpha brain waves and stimulate the theta brain waves, which is more conducive to intense concentration and study. Sound can also promote meditative states, which can otherwise be difficult to achieve.

Sound and music therapy has been shown to provide other positive health benefits. People commonly experience stress reduction, enhanced memory, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, increased immunity and deeper breathing. Sound therapy may also be used to improve emotional issues, insomnia and anxiety-related illnesses. Importantly, music can significantly enhance a person’s motivation. In stroke victims, increased motivation through music has proved more effective to recovery than other traditional rehabilitative therapies.