For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some pains in my right leg. Even though I have been stretching a lot and cut back on my running, it’s still there. But then I thought about trying a foam roller. I haven’t tried it before but I knew that it was good for preventing injuries and such. Kind of like a massage, but a more painful one.
Anyway, I gave it a try and, even though it hurt like hell, eventually I could feel that it actually helped. Anyhow, it seems that not enough people know about foam rolling and how to use it, so I figured I would do a post so more people can know about this great tool!
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a cylindrical piece of extruded hard-celled foam. It’s kind of like a swimming pool noodle but a little harder and larger in diameter. They range from one foot to three feet in length. One length isn’t better than the other, it comes down to personal preference.
Why should you use a foam roller?
As mentioned before, a foam roller is great to prevent injuries and helps relieve pain.
It helps to relieve tension in places that normal stretching cannot. With a foam roller, you are able to reach deeper into a muscle group, down to the myofascia. A foam roller also breaks up trigger points. When stimulated, blood flow increases to that area of a muscle, which allows nutrients to be brought in to help rebuild that muscle and make it stronger (provided all the important nutrients to rebuild muscle are present in the blood). It also allows for one to stimulate ligaments and tendons. Both have limited blood flow to them to begin with (which explains why injuries such as ACL tears need a long rehab period), so stimulation via foam rolling to ligaments and tendons can help them become stronger and more stable.
When using a foam roller you won’t be as sore the next day and in time you’ll be more flexible when you combine foam rolling with stretching, as opposed to only stretching.
How do you use a foam roller?
Use a foam roller over tender areas which will decrease muscle density and over-activity of the muscle. There is no universal agreement on when to roll, how often, or how long, but generally techniques can be used both before and after a workout. Foam rolling prior to working out helps decrease muscle density. Foam rolling after a workout helps muscle recover from strenuous activity and helps the muscles to relax.
I use my foam roller after my 5-10 min. warm up and after my workout is done.
When you foam roll and find a particularly painful area (trigger point), hold that position until the area softens.
Things to remember when foam rolling:
Breathe. Breathing feeds your tissues oxygen which help release excess tension and stress.
Keeping a good posture. Don’t hunch when foam rolling. Bad posture creates more tension and stress in your body.
Take it slow. Don’t roll too fast. The point in rolling is to increase circulation, range of motion, and flexibility so take your time.
Don’t roll over bony joins. Applying pressure to joints can cause hyperextension. Get close to joints, but don’t roll over them.
Remember to drink a lot of water.
Last but not least:
Keep in mind that foam rolling can be rather painful and it is important that you feel better after rolling out your muscles and not worse. Rolling should never cause bruising. If you have any injuies I would recommend that you check with your doctor before foam rolling. Foam rolling is good to prevent injuries.
Sources: Tumblr and Runners World