Molly McNamee | Stretching vs. Foam Rolling
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Stretching vs. Foam Rolling

You have probably read that foam rolling and stretching keep the body healthy. But is it really necessary to do both? I mean… we all have busy lives, do we really have to take time out of our busy schedule to stretch and foam roll?

Sorry to say it guys, but you do!

Stretching and foam rolling are amazing (and necessary) for the body in completely different ways. Stretching helps to lengthen a muscle. Foam rolling helps to dig into the knots created from stress and overuse. Taking 15-minutes out of your day to stretch and roll out tight muscles can save you from preventable pain and injury.

Let’s break down the two techniques to get a better understanding of how each can help you.

Stretching helps to improve a muscles range of motion, or how flexible and mobile a body part is. There are several different ways to stretch, but for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on static stretching. Static stretching requires you to hold a particular stretch for at least 30 seconds. Holding the position for a minimum of 30 seconds triggers sensors in your body to relax the muscle you are stretching. This process is important because if the muscle cannot relax, it cannot stretch.

Although these stretches are static, they should feel quite active. You should constantly be pushing and pulling deeper into the stretch as you “hold” the position. Avoid bouncing in the pose or lazily holding a stretch.

Stretching will not only make you more flexible, but it will allow you to build muscle more easily. For example, if your quads are tight, it is going to be very hard for you to build muscle in any other part of your legs. Your quads will take over during practically every lower body exercise. This makes it nearly impossible to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. Stretching your quads daily will loosen up the muscle and give the rest of your leg a chance to participate.

Foam rolling is good to do before stretching or can be done on its own. Foam rolling focuses more on the nervous system and tissues rather than the length of the muscle itself. Rolling out a muscle breaks apart the knots in the muscle tissue. Foaming rolling isn’t the only self-myofascial technique, you can also use a tennis or lacrosse ball to break apart knots or practice self-massage.

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck and didn’t know why? Chances are there are some knots in your upper back created by stress and posture. These knots are affecting your mobility in other parts of the body. Using a foam roller or massage stick to break apart these knots will help relieve pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.

Incorporating these corrective techniques into your daily routine can be tedious and time-consuming. But, wouldn’t you rather spend 15-minutes today that be in pain for years?