My #1 Takeaway from Mobility Courses

Could you be foam rolling all wrong — and for the wrong reasons? Maybe! I’ve taken several mobility and self myofascial release courses over the last year (and am eyeing yet another one!).

Today I’m sharing my biggest takeaway that I heard at pretty much all of these courses.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional or physical therapist. I can’t diagnose what may be wrong with you. Always check with a doctor first.

It’s not about ironing out our fascia
Back in the day when I started foam rolling, I was taught that it basically takes our jumbled fascia (which creates pain and stiffness) and irons it out, so to speak, so that all those jumbled fibers are more organized.

Turns out that’s not really what foam rolling does.

cheerful female touching hair and looking away in daylight
Myofascial release is more about the neuromuscular connection | Photo by Harry Cooke on Pexels.com

It’s all in your head
Maybe not all, but like most things running, the truth is it’s often not so much a body limitation, but a neuromuscular protection mechanism.

You know how when you’re doing a long run, and you feel tired towards the end? A lot of that is actually coming from your brain — it’s trying to protect you from injuring yourself, and slowing down is a great way to potentially protect from injury.

Your nervous system acts the same way to protect your connective tissue. It can send you pain to basically get you to stop whatever it is you are doing that it perceives as a threat.

Your nervous system basically says stop yourself! (by triggering pain) before you wreck yourself (injure yourself).

Foam rolling basically tells your brain that oh! it’s okay to feel that pressure. You can tolerate that pressure; it’s not a threat.

img_2581-1

Do you really need to roll at all?
I’ve shared my foot compression routine. The problem with rolling is you generally don’t get as deep pressure as you do by simply putting pressure on the foot (or wherever else you usually roll).

It also takes sustained pressure to get into your nervous system — without those longer holds, your nervous system doesn’t have time to calm down and realize that this sort of pressure isn’t a threat after all.

Can rolling hurt you? Well, yes, it can, but only if it’s done improperly (rolling on bones, over new scars, if you have a serious illness). In general you can foam roll to your hearts’ content — but you may not get the results you’re after.

If done properly foam rolling will not hurt you. It just may not actually heal you.

Should I just throw out my foam roller?
Nooooo! Foam rolling is very beneficial at certain times. That’s another thing I learned — when and how to foam roll — but that’s a post for another day.

Let’s end with a little experiment. I want you to roll your left foot. Do it however you normally do it. Walk around. Notice the difference between your left and right feet.

Next try simply draping your foot over the same ball you used with your right foot. In front of the fat pad on your heel on the inside and the outside. Then just below the ball of the foot, on the inside and outside of your foot. Hold for at least 90 seconds in each location.

Walk around again.

Which foot feels better? 

What else do you notice about your feet after doing this? 

Have you gotten results with foam rolling? 

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

Runners_Roundup_Logo-640x640

Hydration is good for ________

bfascia1

Fascia!

Your fascia is just reason #999 to stay well hydrated.

Fairytales and Fitness

What is Fascia?
Fascia is all the rage/buzzworthy right now, but what exactly is your fascia? Short disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, fitness expert, or fascia expert. Fascia gives you shape. I know you think it’s your bones, but your fascia surrounds all your bones, your organs, your muscles. It’s actually what keeps you upright.

bfascia2

It’s made up of ground substance, and that ground substance has collegen fibers and blood vessels — and a whole lot more. Click herefor a really deep dive into fascia (it’s fascinating!). I also highly suggest watching the Fuzz lecture here.

Your fascia actually gives your body feedback on your the state of your muscles, and is important in proprieception (figuring out where you are in time and space).

Makes sense that taking care of our fascia is important, right?

Ground Substance is thirsty
Ground substance is 70% water. Many liken it to a sponge, as you can see in this post here:

When a sponge dries out it becomes brittle and hard. It can easily be broken with only a little force because of how crispy it has become. However, when a sponge is wet and well hydrated it gets springy and resilient. You can crush it into a little ball and it bounces back. You can wring it and twist it, but it is difficult to break.

Hydration is important to your fascia, and once you’re dehydrated, it begins to stiffen and stick to itself — and you feel knots and stiffness, too. You can’t completely hydrate your fascia by drinking more, but good hydration is a good first step to keep your fascia happy.

Fascia is also hydrated by movement (this is where foam rolling can come in), although not by repetitive movement — like running — which is why cross training is so important. Running can be good for your fascia — but only running, not so much.

Rest is important too (you know I’m always harping on that!). Tom Myers, an expert on fascia and author of Anatomy Trains (Amazon Affiliate link here),  writes:

The fascia gets temporarily weaker and then comes back stronger after a heavy workout. Always alternate work-outs with periodic rest to allow for maximum integration and strengthening of the fascial network.

You can also check out his YouTube channel here.

Coach Debbie @ Coachdebbieruns is a Fasical Stretch Therapist. Read her post hereabout how FST can make you a better runner (someday we’ll be able to do this again!).

Did you know what fascia is?

Are you more motivated to help your fascia stay happy?

What do you do when you feel stiff in the morning?

gwy postrunstretch2

ICYMI: Feeling in need of a longer stretch after a run? When I shot my postrun stretch  video for the 21 Day Yoga Challenge (sign up here), I went a little long on my first try. Like double the amount of time that short video should have been. When you have time to take more time stretching it out, try out my new Post Run Stretch Video here.