Welcome to Purposeful Foam Rolling Blog:
Our purpose here is to help you understand what is causing your muscles to become tight stiff and sore, and the problems that can develop because of this tightness. We want to give you the knowledge and the tools so that you can take control of your self care.
Over the years I have been asking my new clients the same question, “ Why do you think your muscles are getting tight, stiff and sore?”
The answers tend to be roughly the same. I sit a lot, I work with computers, I’m on my phone all the time, I have a lot of stress, I don’t stretch, etc.. These are all great answer, but it doesn’t get to the core of why your muscles are getting tight, stiff and sore.
The answers I disagree with:
I’m just getting old, My doctor says it just age. Now you are getting older, but it is not what is causing you to get tight stiff and sore.
Before we answer the question: Why are you getting tight and sore.” I always give my client a brief intro to muscle anatomy. I promise there will be no test! I truly believe that by having a basic understanding of how muscles works, it will be easier to understand why muscles get tight and stiff.
For our purposes we are just going to focus on the muscles and the fascia.
What is a muscle:
Muscle is the soft tissue that attaches to your bones and provide movement and stability to the skeletal body by contracting and elongating. It is made up of muscle fibers that sort of resemble a bundle of electrical wiring. It is these fibers that elongate and contract that move the bones. Here is a picture of of a muscle, and its fibers.
What is Fascia:
Fascia is like sera wrap or in the electrical wire example the insulation that wraps around the copper wire. Fascia wraps around the muscle fiber to provide a smooth gliding surface for the fibers to elongate and contract. In the picture below you can see the white line (fascia) that separates the muscles, but also each smaller circle (muscle fiber) is separated by fascia. This is actually a cross section of the left lower leg.
Okay so how does this get tight:
As we are living our lives, we are breaking down muscle by working it. Either on purpose by working out, walking, running, gardening or pounding weights or not on purpose such as poor posture and repetitive use. Regardless of how we break down the muscle it repairs itself. During the repair process we get scar tissue. Add to that actual muscle injuries, time and lack of self care, you are going to have a whole lot of scar tissue. At the same time you are accumulating adhesions between the fascia and the muscle fibers. Adhesions accumulate again through the daily use of our muscles. These adhesions act like glue, which reduce the smooth surface between the fascia and the muscle fibers.
This is happening throughout the entire muscle, and in every muscle of the body. By the time you hit your 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s you have a ton of scar tissue and adhesions in every muscle of the body, which is creating pain and restricted movement.
Picture 1 is a picture of a muscle with no scar tissue and adhesions, possible an infant or fairytale character. Picture 2 is what most of our muscles look like
Picture 1. Picture 2.
Now imagine: your muscles trying to work, elongate and contract with all this stuff in there. Scar tissue and adhesion reduce the strength, endurance and power of the muscles of your body, and increases the risk of injury to the muscle.
It’s accumulation creates tightness, stiffness and loss of range of motion. This is what is causing you to feel years older than you actually are.
How to I take care of this?
We preach and practice foam rolling. Foam rollers are the best tool to reduce a tight ITBand, It must be done correctly and gently in order not to hurt or bruise yourself. The ITBand can be very very painful and tender. Learn the correct foam rolling techniques from Basic, Intermediate, to Advance. Finally, stretching is beneficial. Find 2-3 good stretches that work for you, and then rotate them every day. This is what we do and it’s what we teach our clients, and students to do.
If you would like to take control of your own self care and learn more about our online Foam Rolling Program
“Purposeful Foam Rolling”
Make sure to check with your doctor prior too engaging in this or any exercise activity. If you have any concerns or issues with your neck or the spine of your neck, check with your doctor first before performing these stretches. Stretching should be done to a point where you feel a gentle stretch on the muscle. If you feel pain stop and consult with your doctor. These stretches are for educational purposes only and are not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose.