You’ve all seen it! Heard someone mention it! You have walked in to the gym to see some lady rolling along a tube-shaped foam device with a red face, holding their breath, and a look of discomfort. You ask, “What the heck is that and why would you do it?” It looks painful… It can’t do much good? Right? Wrong!
What you are looking at is someone foam rolling! Foam rolling is something you may or may not be very familiar with. For those who are familiar with it you can most likely attest how much of a difference it can make in your exercise routine and performance! Foam rolling is a process also known as self-myofascial release (SMR). This technique is aimed to put pressure on the myofascia (myofascia is a dense, tough tissue that surrounds all of your muscles). This process causes the tough fascia to elongate and become more pliable like a pizza maker kneading dough to shape the pizza. This results in an increased range of motion and more flexibility!
You may be wondering, “Is that it?” No Way! If done prior to exercise, SMR or foam rolling also promotes increased blood flow to the area being treated. The promotion of blood flow to a muscle can aid in recovery time and relieve muscle tension which benefits you in a big way by decreasing your risk of injury. SMR also has benefits if done after working out. It assists blood flushing from the muscle that has pooled due to an extended bout of exercise. This process allows fresh oxygen to come in along with vital nutrients to start recovery!
So now what? How do I use a Foam Roller?
1) Begin by placing yourself in a prone (belly-down) position. Position the foam roller perpendicular to your body beneath your hip.
2) Curl your leg so that your knee is bent at a 90° angle.
3)Using your arms/elbows as a guide, pull yourself forward; rolling the foam roller to just above your knee.
4) Roll yourself backward. Repeat 4-5 times each leg.
Inner Thigh Roll
1) Position yourself belly-down, with your leg flexed at the hip and foam roller underneath your groin/hip.
2) Moving sideways, roll to your knee.
3) Push yourself towards the foam roller to bring the roller back to the start position.
Repeat 4-5 times each leg.
1) Start by placing the foam roller beneath one leg just below the buttocks. Place your hands behind your back on the floor. Use your arms to push/pull you.
2) Pull yourself back, rolling to the back of the knee. Keep your leg straight.
3) Push back to start position. Repeat 4-5 time per leg.
1) Sit on your foam roller with the uppermost part of your buttocks. Cross the foot of the glute being rolled above the opposite knee. Lean towards the side being rolled, placing your hand on the floor.
2) Pull yourself backwards to the lowermost part of your buttocks.
3) Push yourself back to the start position.
Repeat 4-5 times per glute.
IT Band Roll
1) Begin by lying on your side with the foam roller beneath your bottom hip. Bring the top lower over and placing your foot down in front. Brace your elbow on the floor. Together, your arm and top leg guide you.
2) Pull yourself forward, allowing the foam roller to go to slightly above the knee.
3) Push yourself back to the starting position.
Repeat 4-5 times per leg.
Using the alternative practice of foam rolling (self-myofascial relief) will not be the cure-all for injuries or all muscle soreness but along with consistent use and additional techniques (chiropractic, icing, stretching, proper nutrition, etc). There are multiple benefits to using a foam roller before and after exercise that includes increased blood flow to muscle, increase range of muscle, and relieve muscle soreness! Ask your trainer to show how to properly and safely roll out! Keep rollin’ along!