FOAM ROLLING 101

This week we are talking about foam rolling because mobility and injury prevention exercises are as important as your daily workouts. You can skip them, but eventually, it will catch up with you. Do the work upfront to improve performance and avoid injuries in the future.

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release, which is a form of self-massage. Used before workouts, it can help improve mobility and decrease pain. If you feel tight or stiff before a warm-up or after your warm-up, these foam rolling techniques can help release muscular tension.

If you workout with tight or overactive muscles, it can affect your posture and your stride which could lead to muscle compensations (incorrect muscles doing the work) that cause imbalances that could eventually lead to an injury.

It’s important to foam roll to help prevent hip, knee and ankle pain or injury, and to improve mobility for better performance.

Foam rolling can also promote recovery and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness.

WHAT TYPE OF FOAM ROLLER SHOULD I CHOOSE?

MEDIUM TO HIGH-DENSITY SMOOTH FOAM ROLLER

If you are new to foam rolling, I suggest you start with a medium to a high-density smooth roller to allow you to apply appropriate pressure to tender spots. You can advance to a grid or deeply textured roller as you loosen up and progress.

GRID FOAM ROLLER

A grid foam roller is a middle of the road foam roller that has a grid that can help you dig deeper into tender spots.

DEEP TEXTURED FOAM ROLLER

A deeply textured roller can allow you to even dig deeper into the muscle tissue but may be more painful.

THREE FOAM ROLLING TECHNIQUES TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SESSIONS

If you roll over the muscle a few times with a little pressure, you’re not getting the most out of your foam rolling sessions. Use these techniques to maximize the results from your foam roller.

ROLL AND APPLY PRESSURE

Roll slowly over the muscle in an up and down motion until you feel a tender spot (you’ll know what I mean when you feel it). Press the foam roller firmly into the tender spot for 20-30 seconds max (more is not better here). Always deeply breathe while foam rolling and focus on keeping the body relaxed. If you start to tense up, release the pressure a bit until your body can relax again. Stop any move that continues to increase in pain as you apply pressure.

ROCK

As you are applying pressure rock the muscle side to side against the roller. Slowly move over the muscle to the next tender spot, apply pressure and rock back and forth. If you’re not rocking while you’re rolling, you’re not getting the most out of your roller. Rock and roll, baby!

RELEASE

While applying pressure to a tender spot, move the joint through the full range of motion. For example, while applying pressure to the quadriceps, bend your knee into flexion, so the bottom of your foot is parallel with the ceiling (or in my case, the sky). Continue to apply pressure while slowly moving the knee into flexion and extension.

HOW OFTEN AND HOW LONG SHOULD I FOAM ROLL?

You will get better results by foam rolling for a short period of five to ten minutes a day than you will for 20-30 minutes once a week. Short, frequent sessions will bring the best results. Incorporate foam rolling as part of your warm up to ensure your body is mobile and primed to workout.

Break each muscle into three parts: The lower, the mid, and the upper, and apply up to the three foam rolling techniques to each part of the muscle tissue for up to 30 seconds.

As an example, you would work on the lower part of the calf for 30 seconds, the mid-calf for 30 seconds and the top of the calf for 30 seconds. Each muscle will take a minute and a half so your foam rolling session should take less than 10 minutes.

You can move quickly over the sections that don’t feel tender under pressure, and only focus on the tender areas. You don’t need to work on muscles that aren’t tight or restricted.

Chandra Gopalan

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31 Mar, 2019

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