Here's why: After a sweat session, your body is in shock - muscles are torn, fuel stores are depleted, and your immune function is zapped. Your body begins to mend muscles and replenish glycogen. Recovered muscles allow you to run faster, or lift more than you could before. But if you don't repair your body, you'll go right back to that initial alarm phase - and never get to the good stuff. Space tough workouts by at least 48 hours. Resting helps you achieve optimal strength, power and speed.
Foam rolling is the reboot tool of choice for physical therapists and personal trainers. Research has shown that foam rolling reduces muscle soreness and leads to better performance in the next workout. Foam rollers are used to help iron out fascia, the collagen-packed connective tissue that stretches over and through your muscles. Fascia can tighten with repeated stress and limit muscles' ability to move. Interestingly, the system is connected throughout, so you can roll out the fascia in your foot and have increased range of motion in your hamstrings.
Combining foam rolling and static stretching will help you recover more quickly, decrease muscles soreness and expose your joints and muscles to a full range of motion. Foam rolling works because the friction it produces raises muscle temperature and softens the fascia. Static stretching can put your joints in positions that foam rolling will not, so it's still important.
For more focused self-massage, you can use a small ball. This allows you to get into a specific area that needs extra work and can access hard-to-reach spots, especially the soles of your feet. Yoga Tune Up balls are a great option to a lacrosse ball or a tennis ball.
Foam rolling and self-massage is best taught in person. In lieu of that, check out these videos to get you started: Experience L!fe Magazine on Foam Rolling and Yoga Tune Up® Self Massage Therapy
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