What's better? Foam Rolling or Stretching?

To get straight to the point...

They both have benefits! In a literature review we looked at 12 different studies that compared the effectiveness of the two in increasing joint range of motion (the amount of range the joint has) and flexibility (the amount of stretch a muscle has).. Both foam rolling and static stretching have a positive effect on flexibility and joint range of motion.

However, self myo-fascial release (foam rolling) is superior for increasing flexibility.

What does this mean for you?

You could happily stretch or foam roll (or both!) and know your body is benefiting from it. Personally, we love them both and implement both into our classes. There is a large mind-body-soul element at play when stretching/foam rolling and we have typically found both foam rolling and stretching have a greatly positive effect on the mind. Both stretching and foam rolling feel good, calm the mind/body and relax the muscles. Its a win win really.

To read the full systematic review comparing the two, click here.

What is foam rolling?

A foam roller is a firm, cylindrical shaped piece of foam which is commonly used to create pressure against the muscle/ fascia to release tension and thus increase range of motion. You can use the foam roller for various parts of the body to create releases- our favourite is the mid back! You can apply this principle to any part of the body Its also a great tool to use for stretching too (funny that!).

Here are two of our favourite ways to use the foam roller :

No. 1

  • Lay the foam roller horizontal

  • Lean back into the foam roller with your middle back in contact

  • Lift your hips in the air and using your feet press yourself backward, rolling down the spine (and then come back up the spine too)

  • Any stiff spots you can pause and let the direct pressure release the area.

No. 2

  • Lay vertical along the foam roller so your head and bottom are supported

  • Make sure the roller is directly in the centre of your shoulder blades, spine and pelvis.

  • Feet can be hip distance apart so you are steady with your balance

  • Open your arms out into a 90 degree angle (See picture) - Stretching out through the front of the chest and Pecs.

What is static stretching?

Positioning the body in a specific way that deliberately puts the muscle on length. Static stretching is the act of holding a stretch, generally for between 10-30 seconds. Static stretching can generally be done without needing any equipment!

Our go to favourite stretch

Pictured is "Childs pose" a stretch for the front of the hip, spine, latissimus dorsi and quadriceps.

  • Start kneeling with your knees slightly wider than hip distance apart

  • Sit your bottom back to your feet and reach your arms out in front of you. Ensure you lengthen at the arms and rest the forehead to create the most depth into the stretch.

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