Foam roller is a popular method for loosening tight areas and is very useful as part of the cool-down process to reduce workout soreness. It has been used by athletes and recommended by physical therapists as part of self-myofascial release to inhibit overactive and tight muscles which could be affecting performance and movement. By relaxing the surrounding muscles and improving tissue mobility, it can improve range of motion in joints.
There are a variety of foam rollers available with different densities. If you are a beginner, you might want to start with a softer one (normally white colour) and build up to harder ones (usually blue or black) with practice and improved flexibility.
Why is it important?
Foam rolling lengthens your muscles and breaks down adhesions and scar tissue. It also activates the sensory receptors in the muscle and improves blood circulation, which in turn can boost recovery and improve performance. Further, it helps the muscles to return to the proper length and prevent over-use injuries.
How to do it?
It is important not to roll over bony areas (like your knee). Always roll in line with the muscles and at a slow pace, spending about 1 – 2 minutes on each body part. When
you roll over a tight or painful area, decrease the speed and stay on top of this area for about 20 seconds, or until you feel the area release. Like deep tissue massage, it will be sore when you roll over areas of muscle tightness or trigger points. However, you will only need 5 – 10 minutes to reap the benefits.
When to do it?
It is best done after a workout followed by a static stretch of the muscle to improve muscle flexibility.
Some common areas are explained below.
Ilio-Tibial Band (ITB)
- Begin with roller at the hip bone on your side.
- Keep body perpendicular to ground.
- Balance on forearm and lowly roll to find tight spots.
- Balance on hands to work hamstrings from gluteus to knee.
- Cross one foot over the other to emphasize one side
- Place foam roll under the mid-calf.
- Cross left leg over right leg to increase pressure
- Slowly roll calf area to find the tender spots and release as tolerated.
Perform at Your Best,
P.S. If you enjoyed this article then sign up for my newsletter to receive the 3 Free Bonus (Injury Prevention Workout for Runners, Dynamic Core Stability, Top 5 Plank Variations) as well as to keep up to date with latest research and fitness trends.