Pliability: Everything You Need To Know and More!
You utilize your muscles every day, whether you are an athlete or avid gym-goer or you just do daily activities such as walking and cleaning. When using your muscles daily, they naturally wear down, causing soreness or stiffness that can make you more susceptible to injury.
Many NFL players, like Tom Brady, use pliability training to prime their muscles to absorb and disperse daily forces so they can achieve more and avoid injury. Pliability training is also used heavily by strength-training coaches and amateur athletes.
The term “muscle pliability” was incorporated into Tom Brady’s now-famous TB12 method. He then worked with trainer Alex Guerrero to perform the exercises. Tom Brady knew he needed to find a way to stay healthy long-term. The pliability exercises helped him build resilient muscles that help withstand impact while supporting a full range of motion.
In this article we will dive into what pliability is and how when practiced consistently, can promote muscle wellness, injury prevention, and alleviate soreness.
What Is Muscle Pliability?
Something is pliabile when it can be easily bent without breaking. Pliable muscles have high elasticity and are easily manipulated.
Muscle pliability exercises primarily focus on developing muscle tissues, connective tissues, ligaments, and joints to withstand regular use as well as recover faster from impact and strain.
The majority of your pliability exercises are based around myofascial release, self-massage, and manual therapy. Many of the exercises utilize foam rollers, vibrating pliability rollers, and various stretching techniques to help soften and lengthen muscles as well as increase blood flow. Hydration and well-balanced nutrition also play a vital role in promoting pliability.
Are Pliability and Flexibility the Same?
Flexibility and pliability go hand in hand. However, flexibility is defined as the range of motion of a joint, which is contingent upon the pliability of your muscles.
Pliability exercises work to develop suppleness within the muscles to help them easily stretch and bend to allow the joints to move in a wider range of motion.
Why Use a Foam Roller for Pliability?
Foam Rolling Can Relieve Tightness
Foam rolling is when you use your own body weight on a foam roller to help compress the muscles and soft tissues in a smooth, rolling manner. Foam rolling helps massage your muscles to help reduce muscle tension and increase mobility in the connective tissue between the skin and the muscle and the tissue around the muscle, also known as myofascial tissue.
Foam rolling is also beneficial to your circulation, blood flow, and lymphatic drainage. It helps to reduce knots in your muscles and helps release sticking points between the different layers of connective tissue.
Foam Rolling Can Increase Your Range of Motion
Foam rolling has also been proven to be beneficial to your range of motion. When you foam roll, you help reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and increase your range of motion without causing a negative impact on your muscle strength.
Foam Rolling Helps You Recover After a Workout
Studies have shown that foam rolling after a workout has helped reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. It also helps reduce the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that many athletes feel hours or even days after an intense workout.
By foam rolling after a workout, you not only help relieve the soreness but also help improve your muscular performance.
What Are the Best Foam Roller Pliability Exercises?
Foam rolling is beneficial to your muscles and is an effective way to develop pliable muscles. If you looking to build pliable muscles, try incorporating these pliability exercises into your warm-up and post-workout routine.
Foam Rolling Your Hamstrings
When foam rolling your hamstrings, start by sitting on the floor and placing the foam roller under the middle of your hamstrings. Place your hands on the floor behind you and shift your weight onto your hands while lifting your hips off the floor.
This will help place pressure from the foam roller on your hamstrings. Once you reach the desired amount of pressure, slowly roll up and down from the bottom of your glutes to the top of your knees. You should feel tenderness while rolling back and forth.
To increase pressure to a certain area, press the foam roller into the specific spot for approximately 30-90 seconds until you feel the tenderness is reduced.
Foam Rolling Your Quadriceps
When foam rolls your quadriceps, lie face down on the floor. Place the foam roller under the middle of your quads. You can either place your hands or forearms on the floor in front of you as if you were performing a plank.
Your legs should be straight out and your feet should not be touching the floor. Start by rolling up to your hips and then down to the top of your knee caps. Again, if you find a tender spot, hold that specific spot for 30-90 seconds before releasing.
Foam Rolling Your Hip Flexors
Foam rolling your hip flexors can be tricky. Start by laying face down and placing the foam roller at the top of your desired hip. The proper positioning of the foam roller should be just below the hip bone. Place your elbows on the floor as if you were performing a plank. Your non-rolling leg should be off the floor with your toes in contact with the ground.
You then use your non-rolling leg and forearms to assist in rolling up and down your hip flexor. This should be a subtle movement as you only roll from your hip bone to the top of your quad. You can roll both the front and side of your hip to cover the entire hip flexor. When you are done, swap sides and repeat.
Foam Rolling Your Lats
When foam rolling your lats, you start by laying on your desired side with your arm extended overhead. Place the foam roller under your arm towards the outside of your armpit. It is important to keep your thumb pointing upwards towards the ceiling.
Begin by slowly rolling up and down from the side of your upper back, just below the shoulder blade, to your armpit. When done, swap sides and repeat.
Foam Rolling Your Lower Back and Glutes
Lower back pain is a common complaint amongst many athletes, avid gym-goers, and just everyday individuals. Low back pain stems from poor posture, tight muscles, or knots in your muscles.
When foam rolling your lower back, avoid putting too much pressure directly on the lower back muscles.
Believe it or not, your lower back pain could be caused by tightness in your glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Consider using the foam roller on those specific areas first before rolling out your lower back. By releasing the tightness in your leg muscles, it could release the tension you feel in your lower back.
Simply put, pliability primes your muscles for efficient performance, so you can train better, recover faster, and prevent injury regardless of your activity level.
Here at Haven Athletic, we want to keep you up to date on the most beneficial ways to reach your maximum fitness goals. Try adding these pliability exercises to your daily workout routine to see if you notice a difference in the elasticity in your muscles.
Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion | PubMed (nih.gov)
THE EFFECTS OF SELF‐MYOFASCIAL RELEASE USING A FOAM ROLL OR ROLLER MASSAGER ON JOINT RANGE OF MOTION, MUSCLE RECOVERY, AND PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW | PMC (nih.gov)
A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery | Frontiersin
What Is Muscle Pliability & Why Does It Matter? | MuscleTech
Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures | PMC (nih.gov)