What is a Foam Roller?
Foam rolling is another name for self-myofascial release. The purpose of the foam rollers is to release muscle tightness by applying pressure to specific points on your body. The specific points in your body that you should focus on is your ‘knots’ or your ‘trigger points’. These points cause pain when there is pressure applied to one area, but it causes pain in another area of your body. You’re likely to feel pain while foam rolling in the beginning, but by the end the pain should be gone. Also, this pain should be uncomfortable. If you are feeling extreme pain, stop.
What are the benefits?
Foam rolling is getting the benefits of a massage therapist at home. There are so many benefits such as:
- Increased Blood Flow: Stretches and loosens muscles.
- Improved Movements: When your muscles are hydrated and loose, they will move past each other with less friction, which means that your muscles are less likely to be pulled.
- Better Range of Motion: Stretching and lubricating muscles helps improve range of motion, which gives better flexibility.
- Decreased Risk of Injury: Increases circulation through the body and reduces chances of injury.
- Decreased Recovery Time: Washes away the acid by recruiting fresh blood and nutrient to the muscle.
- Faster Results: If you achieve all of the benefits above, this brings us to our sixth benefit. If you continue to be healthy, you will achieve your athletic goals and it produces faster results.
How Often You Should Use Foam Rollers
It’s recommended that you use a foam roller every day, especially if you are relatively active. Just as you would stretch every day, you can use the foam roller every day to help your muscles respond to it. You don’t have use it for a long time. A quick 10-30 minutes will suffice.
Different Types of Foam Rollers
Low-density Foam Rollers
These are soft and light foam rollers. These are used for sore muscles or for an exercise class.
Firm Foam Rollers
These dense foam rollers are extremely hard when you sit on them, which are best used for an intense myofascial release.
Short Foam Rollers
These foam rollers are smaller rollers used to focus on one area that can be hard to reach with regular sized foam rollers. They come in firm and soft densities.
Bumpy Foam Rollers
These foam rollers are textured to help get into and reach your trigger points in your muscles.
Medium-density Foam Rollers
This is the all-purpose foam roller. No matter what you’re trying to achieve – you can’t go wrong with the medium-density foam roller.
How to Use a Foam Roller
While sitting on the floor, have your legs straight and ankles crossed left over right and a foam roller under your right ankle. You’re going to place your hands on the floor next to your butt. Lift your butt off the floor and roll your right calf muscle over the roller from your ankle to your knee with your toes pointed up. Rotate with your leg rotated inward and outward. Then switch legs.
Lying on your right side with your legs straight, place the foam roller under your right hip. Place your hands on the floor, cross your left leg over your right and place your left foot flat on the floor by your right knee. By using your hands, roll the side of your upper leg over the roller. After a couple of times, switch legs and repeat.
Sit on top of the foam roller with your left foot flat on the floor while crossing your right leg over your left thigh. Place your hands on the floor behind you and tilt your body to your right. This will press your glute against the roller. Keep rolling forward and backward and then switch to your left side.
Lying face up with your knees bent and feet flat, place the foam roller under your mid-back. Lift your butt off of the floor and place your arms behind your head. Slowly roll the entire length of your back from your shoulders downward.
Lying face down on the floor, keep your legs straight and put a foam roller under your quads. Prop yourself up on your forearms and slowly roll your quad muscles from the tops of your legs to the top of your knees.
While sitting on the floor with your legs straight, place the foam roller under your thighs and place your hands on the floor next to your butt. Then lift your butt and use your hands to roll the entire length of your hamstrings.
Mistakes to Avoid
Do not roll where you feel pain
Usually when you’re feeling pain in an area, it’s the result of tension in another part of your body.
Do not roll too fast.
According to Monica Vazquez, NASM certified personal trainer, “You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax”
Don’t spend too much time on knots
When you spend too much time on a knot, you can actually cause bruising by hitting a nerve or damaging the tissue.