The Benefits of Foam Rolling
If you’ve ever foam rolled before then you already understand the love hate relationship that comes with these little guys 😆 Even though it may be painful at times, the benefits far outweigh the pain threshold.
What exactly is a Foam Roller and how do you use it? A foam roller is a piece of foam (usually in the shape of a cylinder) that is used for self-massage by an athlete or gym goer to pressure sensitive areas in the muscles and provide soft tissue work at a significantly less cost than needing to visit a massage therapist. By rolling over knots, trigger points, and sensitive areas you can perform self-myofasial release right from the comfort of your home or local gym. Self-myofasial release is just a technical term for self-massage that can work wonders for injured athletes or injury prevention.
(foam rollers can come in all different shapes & sizes)
The technique is pretty much self explanatory as you’ll simply allow your body-weight to apply pressure to the tight spots. Do not violently roll the foam roller over your muscle but simply lay upon the tight area and hold. You will notice the pain threshold slowly going away after few seconds of holding. Then, slightly roll a bit further and hold again by gently applying enough body-weight against the foam to give good solid pressure.
The major areas and muscle groups that respond to foam work are the glutes, quads, hips, adductors, upper & lower back, and calves. There are some fantastic YouTube videos that show the proper form and demonstration for each muscle group.
(to foam roll the calves, a common method is to use your off leg to help in adding pressure to the tender spot)
Foam rolling can performed with great benefit both before and after workouts. Rolling prior to a workout can help to decrease muscle density and allow for a better warm-up. Rolling after a workout may help in recovery after strenuous exercise. I myself usually foam roll or roll on a lacrosse ball for about 10 minutes pre-workout with emphasis on the lats, adductors, and hips as these areas get really tight if I sit for long periods of time.
I hope this helps and answers some questions people may have about foam rolling & self-myofascial release. Foam rollers are a small investment that can provide a significant benefit to anybody that is serious in their training.