For some of us, it’s the part of our workout schedule we wouldn’t even think of skipping.
For yet others, it’s that thing we know we should be doing after exercise, or just as part of our day-to-day lives, but it always seems to fall by the wayside. We’re talking about foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, which is a manual therapy technique that involves stretching out and increasing the pliability of the restricted fascia (the tough connective tissues of your body). Usually done with a foam roller or something as common as a tennis ball, personal trainers have long been touting its benefits in helping muscles recover and increase flexibility.
Enter RAD Roller, which is upping the local fascia game. The American company has just expanded into the UAE, bringing with it its range of massage and release tools – along with an assortment of free how-to workshops led by local fitness ambassadors. The company, which touts itself as makers of the “world’s most advanced massage and release tools,” is all about taking the principle of the classic foam roller and incorporating it into other products – sticks, balls, etc – so people can use to do speed recovery, ease their pain and boost mobility.
The RAD Roller isn’t just for runners either. Everyone from golfers to yogis to Crossfit enthusiasts can benefit. Alison McLaughlin, managing partner of RAD Roller in the UAE, explains.
Why is myofascial release so important for training?
It’s no surprise that running and/or training on a regular basis can leave us with tight muscles and create soreness – and in some cases pain – within the body. The muscle tissue in the body is so connected that when one area is tight, it is most likely going to impact other areas as well. Rolling and releasing the muscles helps to increase blood circulation to aid with muscle recovery and soreness after training.
Should only runners use this? Is it important for everyday life too?
Everyone needs to be rolling. As we age, the connective tissue in the muscles, fascia, dry up, which means that fluidity and ease of movement gets restricted. Rolling and stretching helps us to flush water back in the muscles and enjoy the range of movement that help us function on a daily basis — getting off the couch, rolling out of bed, reaching for food on the top shelf.
It’s important everywhere, specifically because most people have desk jobs, where they sit and pronate their shoulders forward. This also happens as we look at our phones. So, we tighten and misalign the body with work and training, but do we ever correct it? This prolonged posture is only coming to impact us in the long run, but we have the opportunity to fix it now, just by rolling for a few minutes a day.
A lot of people don’t foam roll because it’s rather painful. What’s your reply to that old excuse?
We actually believe “pain is not gain.” When you roll, you should be able to relax over the tool and breathe. We recommend breathing for about 10 breathes in each area. Keeping a relaxed state of mind is the key principle of Rad. We are brain-based mobility. This means, we work to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system – rest and digest – so you can get the best possible release. This is why our products don’t have spikes. How can you relax on that? Ouch.
Q: You offer mobility workshops in the UAE. What can people expect from one of those?
We have a variety of workshops for a variety of different people! For example, we work with yoga teachers to get deeper in poses, and we also work with CrossFitters to understand how to effectively roll to enhance their workouts. In general, you will learn:
- About how pain affects movement and the tools you can use to help assess the situation
- How mobility works in the body, the types, and definitions self-myofascial therapy (SMT) — what it is and how it works (hint: It’s probably different than you think!)
- The do’s and don’ts of mobility and SMT work. Become an expert in what to do and how to do it
- The RAD tools are designed very specifically; we’ll take you through the deeper levels of function and application
Are you collaborating with any UAE brands?
A: We are all about the grassroots initiatives! We work with various studios around Dubai and various clinics such as DISC, Perfect Balance Rehab (in Abu Dhabi) and Perform Better Middle East.
Ashleigh Stewart is a New Zealand journalist, who has spent much of her career on the health beat, focusing most recently on mental health and wellbeing. She has worked in Japan, Indonesia, America, and has spent the last two years in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. She's also an avid outdoorswoman and runner, having completed her first marathon in Dubai in 2017.