By Kelvin Tan, Editor for Men’s Health Singapore
The old days when football players used to stumble into training casually, either drunk or sleep-deprived, are long gone- the life of the professional player is regimented, and designed for maximum performance.
So it was no surprise when after Paris St Germain landed in Singapore for the International Champions Cup, they did a quick change of schedule and squeezed in a training session in the evening. It’s highly likely that they were trying to help their stars get some sleep instead of tossing and turning from the time-difference.
In a study from Appalachian State University, people who lifted at 7:00 a.m. fell asleep faster than those who didn’t work out at all or those who hit the gym in the afternoon or evenings.
But those who pumped iron at 7:00 p.m. not only slept through the night better than non-exercisers, but also better than the morning lifters.
This suggests that if you have trouble falling asleep, morning workouts may be your best bet. But if you have difficulty staying asleep, evening exercise may be the way to go.
But apart from that, the other reason was apparent during their training session- much of the session was about stretching out limbs that would have been pretty frozen from the long flight, and it was also interesting to see most players using foam rollers on their hamstrings and IT bands, as you can see in the video below.
If you’re looking at learning foam-rolling in the same way the PSG players are doing it, here’s a quick run-though below.
HOW IT WORKS
Foam-rolling can be done before and after workouts.
The process of applying pressure to the muscles to relieve tension is called myofascial release. Fascia is a fibre-like sheet of connective tissue beneath the skin that holds together the muscles, ligaments, bones and organs of the body.
The various fasciae in the body need to be fluid enough to stretch and slide between themselves. “When this fluidity is compromised, our muscles become strained and the chance of feeling pain increases,” said Mr Ray Loh, an exercise physiologist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Sports and Medicine Clinic.
“By applying pressure and tension to the connective tissue, regular foam-rolling can help break up adhesions that form between fascia and restore this fluidity.”
CHOOSING A ROLLER
Foam rollers are cylinder-shaped and differ in firmness or density.
Firmer foam rollers provide a deeper, more intense, massage than the gentler and softer ones.
“Harder foams are preferred for tendons such as the Achilles tendon. Softer ones are more suitable for the glutes,” said Mr Loh. “We don’t want to irritate the nerves during foam-rolling.”
Working on a particular spot excessively, especially if the area is already injured or inflamed, can cause nerve irritation.
There are specialised kinds of foam rollers that vary in length and diameter, as well as having textures such as ridges.
Another option – a massage ball – is best used for small surface areas to release muscle tension. These balls are portable and easy to use.
Other options include tennis balls, which can be used for more sensitive areas like the lower back. Softballs or baseballs, which are firmer, can be used to massage the glutes or calves more deeply.
PVC pipes or wooden rods can also be used to relieve tension in the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and lower back.
Ms She said: “The rigid pipe can apply a much greater force to these areas than the foam roller and is very portable as well.”
Tickets to the 2018 International Champions Cup in Singapore are still available at www.sportshub.com.sg/ ICC2018.