You may have seen them in the supermarket and read about them but what is a foam roller and what do you do with it? The quick answer is that it delivers a quick myofascial release, easing tension in the muscles you are rolling. Still none the wiser – don’t worry you will soon be an expert. I will cover everything you need to know and there is a free sequence you can download at the end to use at home. Enjoy and please comment and share. I would love to hear what difference you feel.
Training breaks our body down. Recovery is what brings it back stronger.
My last blog looked at muscle tension and how it builds (if you haven’t read it then now would be a good time!) I talked about how massage works to release the tension and restore balance in your body. The foam roller is a tool that you can use in between massages to keep tension at bay. It delivers a much more basic and general release but a release none the less.
The attached sequence is designed to start at the bottom of your body and to work up which is important to release and remove toxins. Your lymphatic system works with your venous return so drains towards your heart. Make sure that you apply pressure rolling up the body or you will create more blockages. The sequence is designed to release key muscle groups before tackling the usual problem areas. You can just roll at random but it can be painful on areas like your quads and ITB so I would recommend following the sequence at least initially.
What does it do?
Foam rolling may not be pleasant if you are tense but it is worth sticking at. Before long you will get past the sharp pain (and it can be really painful!) and glide backwards and forwards. This is how you can really get to know your body and keep it problem free. Foam rolling applies a general pressure over the area, whilst it releases general tension it won’t deal with knots or scar tissue. You will need a massage to do that. It is a good maintenance tool and will make a difference to how often you need a massage. Be aware that you will need some upper body strength to hold your weight as you roll.
How often should I roll?
You don’t need to roll every day but certainly after hard training and at least twice a week. If your muscles are sore and painful then leave it at least 24 hours between rolling to see the benefits. It can be very uncomfortable but keep at it and the tension will ease.
It is an easy and cheap way of keeping injuries at bay and only takes 10 minutes out of your day. The fact that it is part of many athletes programmes, used by physios and that you find rollers in most gyms says it all. So invest regular time in looking after yourself.
I hope you have found that useful and are starting to see how important it is to release tension as it builds rather than just ignoring it until it reaches crisis point. Please forward to anyone you think might benefit from the sequence. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already done so. I would love to hear how you find the sequence and whether it makes a difference for you.