Should I Foam Roll? Why You Need To and Exactly How To Do It


Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release, can begin to undo the aches and pains that come with our modern lifestyles.

WHY YOU NEED IT

As we go about our days, our bodies adapt to the movement patterns (or lack thereof) we repeat most often.

Long hours sitting, whether it be at a desk, in a car or binge-watching full blown seasons of Netflix documentaries, will result in tight hips and weak glutes. And with that often comes low back pain.

We develop all sorts of muscle imbalances as a result of repeated daily movements in our lives, regular poor posture, poor training technique and even emotional duress.

These imbalances throw off our entire kinetic chain, affecting our joints at the knees, low back and ankles, increasing stress and causing altered joint motion (encouraging even worse movement patterns) and eventually leading to chronic pain.

Not addressing them is a secret invitation for injury and misery.

Consider if your knees move inward when performing squats or if they hurt doing lunges.

Do your shoulders elevate or head move forward when performing pulling exercises?

Or do you get an arch in your low back and just generally have a hard time keeping proper posture throughout your workouts?

BENEFITS

The good news is, your body can be fully realigned and re-taught to naturally execute proper posture throughout all movements, and make them easier; just as squatting down to pick things up rather than bending, or sitting up straight without quickly being pulled to fall back into a slump.

A flexibility routine inclusive of foam rolling can improve muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of joint dysfunctions, injuries and pain.

In addition, it improves overall joint range of motion and relieves excessive tension in muscles and joints.

So if you’re wondering if this helps relieve post-workout muscle soreness (or the evil, intense kind that shows up 2 days after your workout), the answer is yes.

WHEN TO ROLL

You could perform SMR (self-myofascial release) ideally every day. Β Although aiming for something realistic is ultimately the best way to begin something new.

Start by including foam rolling into your warm-ups and cool-downs whenever you work out, and maybe on a rest day too. Its crucial you do this to begin seeing improvement.

Roll before stretching to reach an even deeper stretch.

Depending on which muscle group your workout focus on (i.e. legs, upper body, total body) its ideal to roll all tight muscles in addition to muscle groups targeted in your workout.

EXACTLY HOW TO DO IT

First determine which muscles you absolutely need to roll out. Those of most importance are the tight muscles that affect our movement patterns. Look below to see which areas you should focus on based on your problem.

PROBLEM: LOW BACK ARCH & LOW BACK PAIN

SOLUTION: ROLL QUADRICEPS, LATS

PROBLEM: KNOCK KNEES (KNEES COLLAPSE INWARD), KNEE PAIN

SOLUTION: ROLL INNER THIGHS (ADDUCTORS), HAMSTRINGS, OUTER THIGHS (TFL/IT BAND), CALVES, PERONEALS

PROBLEM: FORWARD HEAD/ROUNDED SHOULDER POSTURE

SOLUTION: ROLL UPPER BACK (THORACIC)

DO:

  • Allow your body-weight to sink into the foam roller.
  • Slow your roll. Moving too quickly reaps little reward.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds on the tender spots. It may take up to a minute, depending on how long it takes you to fully relax the muscle.
  • Use your core strength to support yourself and relieve weight & pressure off the area you’re rolling
  • Incorporate into your cool-down, especially if you’ve been training muscles that are already tight.
  • Continue if its uncomfortable, it often is, depending on how tight you are.
  • Opt for a softer, even-surfaced foam roller if you’re a rookie at this.

DON’T:

  • Roll your lower back,
  • Roll your knee caps
  • Roll over injuries/painful areas.
  • Tense muscles you’re rolling

CALVES

  1. Sit with legs stretched out and place foam roll under mid-calf. Cross one leg over the other to increase pressure (optional).
  2. Lift your bum up and put your arms on the floor behind you to support your body-weight as you slowly roll along the calf area
  3. Keep rolling until you find the most tender spot, then hold once you find it for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for both legs.

PERONEALS

  1. Lay on your side, supporting yourself with your forearm, foam roll positioned on the outside leg below the knee. Stack your legs one on top of the other or cross your upper leg over your lower leg and plant on the floor for more support.
  2. Engage your core, lift your hips up and begin to roll from below the knee to above the ankle on the side of your leg.
  3. When you find a tender spot, hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for both legs.

OUTER THIGHS (TFL/IT BAND)

  1. Lay on your side, supporting yourself with your forearm, with core engaged and foam roll at the top of your outer thigh.
  2. Cross your top leg over lower leg, with foot planted on the floor.
  3. Slowly roll from hip joint to just above the knee to find the most tender spot, then hold once you find it for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for both legs.

INNER THIGH (ADDUCTORS)

  1. Lay face down with one thigh flexed and the other turned out, with foam roll underneath, positioned parallel to your torso. It should be near the groin area but not directly under it.
  2. Engage your core, lift your hips and begin to foam roll along your upper inner thigh. Play around and move your body in slightly different angles to reach the areas that feel especially tight.
  3. When you find a tender spot, hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for both legs.

PIRIFORMIS

  1. Sit on top of the foam roll positioned on the back of the hip and cross one foot to the opposite knee.
  2. Lean into the hip and glute of the crossed leg and slowly roll until you find a tender spot, then hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for both left and right side.

QUADRICEPS

  1. Lay face down supporting your body-weight on your forearms with foam roll positioned beneath your upper thighs.
  2. With core engaged, slowly roll out the length of your quads (careful not to roll over the knee).
  3. Continue rolling until you find a tender spot, then hold for 30-60 seconds.

HAMSTRINGSSMR Hamstrings Foam Roll

  1. Sit on floor with legs outstretched and place foam roll underneath the back of your thighs.
  2. Place your hands on the floor behind you for support, engage your core, lift your hips up and begin to slowly roll from the top of the back of your thighs until you reach just above the knee joint
  3. Continue rolling until you find a tender spot, then hold for 30-60 seconds.

LATISSIMUS DORSI (LATS)

  1. Lie on the floor on one side with the arm closest to the floor outstretched with thumb facing up. Place foam roll under the arm.
  2. Engage your core, lift your hips and from this position, slowly roll from your armpit about four inches down towards your waist
  3. Continue to roll back and forth until you find a tender spot, then hold 30-60 seconds. Repeat if needed.

UPPER BACK (THORACIC)

  1. Lay back over the foam roll so that your mid-back is resting on it.
  2. Engage your core and lift your hips up, placing fingers behind your ears with elbows out wide to open up your chest
  3. Slowly roll from your mid-back up to the top of your shoulder blades. Continue until you find a tender spot, then hold for 30-60 seconds.

 

Hope this helps! If you have any other questions, suggestions, or thangs you’d like to know, don’t forget to drop a line in the comments down below!

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Lindsey,
    Excellent article on foam rolling — I have one and love it! BTW, I accidentally sent you a photoπŸ™„
    Marla
    (a.k.a. eidetic gal)

    Like

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