Foam Rolling: A General Guide

Foam RollerSore from a workout? Muscles a little stiff? Need better flexibility? Foam Roll. Right now. Well after you read this of . Foam rolling is probably the reason I workout as much as I do and at high intensities. Its not just for runners or just for weight lifting, its for everyone and all you need is a small investment in a round piece a foam.  Simple enough. So you probably saying, “I stretch. That’s enough”.  Well stretching is good, but its not enough.  Now I am not an athletic trainer or physical therapist, so I don’t know the whole science of it.  What I do know is it is a poor man’s massage, called a myofascial release.  This is basically self massage to release tense or sore spots on the body.  Those “knots” you have in your muscles- foam rolling breaks those up where stretching won’t.  Breaking up these knots help you be able to move for freely and effectively. It even can help prevent injuries. I wont lie to you- it hurts and sucks, especially the first few times.  But its one of those “hurts so good” types of pains.  Its basically helping your body repair itself after workouts. Also, before workouts its a great warmup to get some blood flowing and loosen your muscles up.  I do it before running, lifting, before work, after work, while watching tv, or pretty much anytime I have 5-10 minutes to spare at minimum.  The more you do the better.

There are also a few types of foam rollers.  A high density foam roller is probably the best most simplest one to use for first timers.  The ones you buy at Target or Wal-Mart are low density rollers.  These will crush or become too soft after a few weeks of use, making it useless.  I bought my 18″ roller for $20 from PowerSystems.  And It has been worth every penny, trust me. Common areas to foam roll are but not limited to: Hamstrings, Quads, Calves, Glutes, IT Band, Back, Shoulders

Foam Rolling Tips

  • Roll before any stretching.
  • Go slow and work the entire length of the muscle 3-5 times
  • If you find a knot or an extra sore spot- hold it right on it for 30 seconds or so
  • Get creative and find ways to foam roll sore or stiff muscles
  • Breath
  • If you want even more intensity- roll with a lacrosse ball, softball, etc

A few examples of foam rolling are below.  A quick Google or YouTube search will give you more ideas and techniques.

Glute Roll
Hitting the always painful IT band
Quad Roll
Calf Roll
Stiff back roll for the office worker
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Chris is currently a student at Elmhurst College finishing up a Business Management Degree. He's an avid sports fan, fitness enthusiast, weekend warrior (drinks anyone?), and expert in useless information.

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