Foam Rolling: Are You Doing It Right?
Foam rolling is very popular. We all know it is a great tool for relaxing tense muscles, speeding up recovery, increasing flexibility and reducing the risk of injuries. But are you foam rolling correctly? Did you know that foam rolling isn’t just rolling up and down the muscle? After reading the article, you will become an expert in foam rolling and learn the correct technique to use a foam roller for increased effectiveness and optimum recovery.
Foam rollers are now widely available, but it can be confusing which one is best for you and which you should buy. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the best ones are the classic ones: in a cylinder shape. The density (how hard they are) depends on your body type: people who are skinnier will be more comfortable using softer ones, as very rigid ones can be painful for them. People who have larger muscles and a slightly larger body type, would benefit from using a harder one, which will allow them to reach the deep muscle tissues. You can get a foam roller with spikes or one with an in-built massager (they increase the speed of muscle release), there are a lot of options to select from. However, all these added benefits are not essential, a simple foam roller works very well. Choose one that you feel is most beneficial for your own needs, and don’t overspend on features that you don’t necessarily need.
The fundamentals of foam rolling lie in the application of pressure on a muscle to improve circulation and aid the release of accumulated lactic acid from the muscles. The removal of the acid reduces muscle tension and improves performance in the next training session. Foam rolling can be used both as part of a warm up or cool down, as the increased circulation in the muscles warms them up for the workout too. Every athlete, recreational and professional, will benefit from foam rolling, no matter what sport they practice.
However, simply ‘rolling’ is not enough. It can help relax muscles and loosen the ‘knots’ in them (which are the highly tense areas of the muscular tissue), but they will not fully release them. The method outlined below will maximally release your knots, make you feel like you have brand new muscles and allow you to push harder in your next training session to reach higher goals.
- Place the foam roller on the floor and put the muscle that you desire to work on over the roller.
- Slowly start rolling from one end of the muscle to the other. Roll a back and forth a few times.
- While rolling, you should identify a point along the muscle that feels like a knot – the point that is most tense in the muscle. There can sometimes be 2 or more of them.
- Position the foam roller directly under the knot, apply moderate pressure on it and hold for 30 seconds.
- Release the knot by rolling the foam roller away, and repeat the process 2-3 times until you feel that the knot has fully released.
- If you have more than one knot, repeat the same procedure with all knots.
This method will help you most effectively use your foam roller and allow maximum muscle relaxation to help you perform the best in your training sessions, feel better in your body and recover faster than you ever have before.