You’ve just finished your workout and as you make your way over to the stretching area you notice a woman moving her entire body over cylindrical piece of foam. She’s writhing over it, using several expletives and you wonder what the heck is she doing?! And more importantly, why?!?
Welcome to foam rolling my friend.
Foam rolling became trendy years ago when athletes used to roll out tight muscles and fascia (more on fascia here). It’s a form of myofasical release (like a massage), you do to yourself – call it self-massage. Basically by using the foam roller and your own bodyweight you are releasing tight muscles via trigger points and increasing circulation and blood to that particular area of your body.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will have you foam rolling like a pro in no time!
DO pick a foam roller that’s right for you! Foam rollers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some with knobs for added torture….I mean, relief. To be honest, I always suggest a longer foam roller so it’s easier to use to roll out your glutes, ITB and back. Of course, if you are traveling, you may want to get a shorter one as well for ease of packing!
DON’T roll directly on a joint or bone. Ouchy!
DO roll slowly and with even pressure, spending a few seconds on each area of the body. Enjoy each and every sensation!
DON’T overdo it! It is not an exercise in pain tolerance. Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result in damage.
DO expect a little bit of discomfort. It should be a “good” hurt, but never unbearable. If an area is too sore or tender, try rolling on surrounding muscles first to help loosen things up.
DON’T try to foam roll your neck. It’s awkward for a reason. The neck is a very sensitive part of the body and a difficult area to position your foam roller. If you are suffering from neck pain, seek the help of a health professional (like your chiropractor, wink wink).
DO it often. Being consistent with rolling is key. It’s not enough to just roll when you are in acute pain. Try rolling every other day! You will notice a difference!
What is your favourite body part to foam roll? Let me know!
Happy Rolling everyone!