“Foam rollers are the poor mans massage therapist.” – Mike Boyle
Foam rolling, also known as Self Myofascial Release (SMR), is a fantastic method to gaining better posture, not being as sore, and fixing any points of reciprocal inhibition an individual may have due to their daily habits.
The point of foam rolling is to target over-used muscles that may be causing other muscles to not fire the way that they should, resulting in Reciprocal Inhibition (RI). Reciprocal Inhibition is a fancy way to say that tightness in certain muscles create a lack of action potentials or muscle activation. RI stems from muscles being in a shortened position for an extended period of time leading to the antagonist (opposite or reciprocal muscle) to not fire properly, creating a disconnect between the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the muscle itself.
A very common example of RI is tight hip flexors (iliopsoas, rectus femoris and potentially the entire group of adductors) creating an inability to activate the glutes properly. This example is extremely common in individuals who are stuck working at a desk sitting hunched over a computer all day. This example of RI is a very common reason why people may have very poor squat form, or may experience a hamstring tear.
Using a foam roller, or for smaller muscles like the scapula retractors (mid/low trap, rhomboids major/minor, levator scap) a lacrosse ball, will allow you to regulate the firing patterns between reciprocating muscle groups creating your posture that is so commonly hindered by our daily activities.
Lastly, foam rolling is something that can be done either before or after a workout. So whether you foam roll before or after a workout, take five minutes and make sure you give the over-used areas of the body a quick foam roll!