Foam rolling is one of those "it hurts so good" love-hate relationships. You dread it and look forward to it. It's essential to a strong recovery, but how can you tell if you've gone way too far with this "good" pain?
Your first foam rolling experience will be excruciating; if you do not often stretch or visit the massage therapist on the regular bases. Then your first experience rolling out your muscles is going to hurt! And most likely bruise the next day, but it was nothing to worry about.
You'll notice blue-green bruises around the area, you rolled on for around five days. It is going to be freaky, but it will feel better after the bruises subsided. From then on out, committed to rolling on the regular bases.
Is Bruising Normal?
Short answer? Is yes. "Especially if you're really tight in that area," or "if it is the first time performing it". Another reason you might be bruising? Is you're staying on one area for too long. Rolling one muscle area for two to three minutes, you're bound to see some bruising the next day.
What Causes Bruising?
When you're foam rolling, you're breaking up scar tissue and adhesions (a specific type of scar tissue that occurs from inflammation, trauma, etc.). When you put your "bodyweight pressure on a concentrated myofascial area," you are "breaking adhesions, as well as creating small tears in tightened muscle fibers, this causes blood to be trapped under the skin, giving the appearance of a bruise.
It's nothing to worry about, but don't go rolling that area again until the bruise heals up.
How Far Is Too Far?
How do you know the difference between normal discomfort and injury-inducing pain? Foam rolling is done to a person's pain level tolerance and threshold, if it's too painful, don't do it. Seems pretty simple, right? Don't push it too far, and make sure you stretch. If it's causing more harm than good (physically and mentally), and if it's too painful you can't stand it, then stop. It's not for everyone and it's not going to make or break your recovery if you don't foam roll!
In terms of pain threshold, there is "good pain" that is similar to the sensation of a deep-tissue massage, and that if you experience it, proceed with your rolling regimen.
Can you Overdo Foam Rolling?
You cannot overdo foam rolling, as it can be performed seven days a week, and it even serves as a great warmup alternative and cool down when working out.
Follow these simple guidelines:
Only stay on the area for 30 seconds to one minute. Don't roll an injured area unless advised by a medical professional (including your nearest physical therapist). If the pain is more than some soreness/tightness, stop.
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