Rolling out our muscles is the one tool that every person has access to yet it remains the most under utilized and under valued tool in every persons routine. We move every day and when we move or we sit for long periods of time our bodies develop knots or tension if it is not treated we can put ourselves in a place that sets us up for an injury.
What does the knot feel like?
When we have a spot on our body that has a knot in it, it feels tight or restrictive. Most people carry tension in their shoulders and is the most common place that we can feel in everyday, we can feel pain in our neck or even headaches from these knots. The other common place is in the quadriceps however we feel the pain in our knees when we have knots in our legs because the muscles are pulling up on our knee caps and surrounding tendons.
How does this happen?
Think about your muscle fibers like a type writer (old school style with keys that lifted when you pressed them) when you contract your muscle a key reaches out and pulls back on your muscle to make it work. When we get tight or sore it’s from a series of the keys (they are called muscle filaments) reaching out pulling on our muscle and then not letting go. Our bodies don’t get stuck in this position because we have millions of these filaments helping each other out. However the more we workout without giving our bodies time to relax from the tension the higher potential for injury becomes because these filaments are pulling on our joints.
How can I prevent it?
Well you can’t prevent this from happening because no matter what we are doing there is always going to be a contraction of muscles and therefore a potential for tightness. What you can do is stretch and roll.
What does stretching do?
When we think of these tight muscles we think of how inflexible we are it’s these filaments that are restricting our elongation of our muscles. So stretching elongates the muscles allowing some of the filaments to release and slowly allows the muscle to return to its natural position. The elongation of muscle is key to being able to reach and move without limitations. However stretching works on the elongation part of the muscle it does nothing for the knots.
What does rolling do?
Rolling works on the knots or rather the large sections of our muscles that are being held by these muscle filaments. When we roll we force some of the muscle filaments to actually release there contraction. When we force the release of the muscle fibers we allow for greater elongation of the muscles. That being said rolling is probably one of the most painful things we do to our bodies. Taking the time to roll and allow for that elongation is hard to do because it is so often very painful think about why its painful though. We are literally pressing so hard into our muscle that the force makes the filaments release a hold that they might have had for days, weeks, or even years!! Just for fun kneel down then sit on your heels and sit here for 2-3 minutes when you stand back up do you feel that pain? That is similar to what is happening when we release the muscle filaments. They are letting go of something for the first time in a long time and it is not that easy to let go.
When you take the time to roll you take the time to heal and restore your body back to a better place. In the end you also heal your body so that you can begin to make incredible gains while moving and working out because you are giving your body back more muscle filaments to help with the pull or contraction of your muscles. So take some time and roll even if it hurts your body will thank you later.