How many of you see people floppin’ around the floor on the foam roller for a half an hour at your gym? Or maybe you do this yourself only to find out the next day you are stiff as a board and have to mobilize all over again?
You guys are not alone…. and the reason for this is that the mechanism that we think is making us “looser” is the wrong one.
We would like to think that sticking a lacrosse ball to your pec is going to lengthen the muscle and fascial cells permanently and then we won’t have a problem with that pec ever again, allowing us to do overhead movements flawlessly for the rest of our life.
But the truth is, the tissue ISN’T actually lengthening. If this small amount of pressure created a true cellular and structural change, our bodies would crumble and disintegrate with a 300 lb barbell loaded on our backs.
You can’t deny the fact, though, that after a bout of foam rolling, you DO feel “looser” and have more ROM. Whats ACTUALLY happening is a neurophysiological response in how you perceive pain or tightness. You are de-sensitizing the neuromuscular system that makes you feel pain by introducing a new, focalized stimulus (foam roll/lacrosse ball). The same thing happens when you stub your toe and you immediately rub it afterwards. That rubbing, is the new stimulus, such as a foam roll. What’s actually changing is the PERCEPTION of it actually feeling not as “tight.”
So how DO you create permanent ROM changes? Stay tuned for an upcoming post about implementation of these modalities soon!