Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique that I just love. Using a foam roller can improve flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibit overactive muscles, and ease pain with just a few minutes of application on most days.
I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible… ready?
A lot of times we have sensitivity and tightness in our myofascial tissues. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. The pains we feel usually originate from specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points.”
Self myofascial release focuses on systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements. Your body recognizes these stressful actions as an injury, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle. This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of knots that can lead to muscle imbalance.
The knots reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and foam rolling focuses on alleviating these knots to restore optimal muscle motion and function.
When the pressure of the body against the foam roller is held on the trigger point or knot, this will allow the muscle fibers to stretch, unknot, and realign.
Still with me?
Here is a video that does a good job of demonstrating what foam rolling is and why you should be doing it:
Benefits of Foam Rolling:
Here are some benefits of foam rolling (and probably what you really want to know!):
- Correction of muscle imbalances
- Muscle relaxation
- Improved range of motion
- Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery
- Reduction of trigger point/knot sensitivity and pain
How To Foam Roll:
Now… how do you foam roll?! It’s actually really simple and doesn’t take much time or effort at all.
First of all, you need a foam roller. I, personally, recommend the Trigger Point grid foam rollers. I’ve tried the cheap foam rollers you can get at Five Below, but they really don’t work as well. If you want this to work and be effective- invest in a quality foam roller like this one. (The 36in is great for beginners and for the back).
The Trigger Point foam rollers are dense and will last you a very long time. They are also more effective than the ones that are all foam because those get really squishy. The Trigger Point foam rollers penetrate in to your body and give you a better release.
Now that you have that…
Slowly, I repeat- SLOWLY, roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. You want to roll slow or it’s not going to change your tissue. Roll about an inch per second. Here is a great video on how slow you should be going:
Hold on that spot while relaxing the targeted area, between 30 seconds and 90 seconds- but no less than 30.
During the exercises it is important to maintain core stability, so pull the navel in toward the spine to maintain stability.
Foam rolling your calves:
Place foam roller under the mid-calf. Cross the opposite leg over the top of the other to increase pressure. Slowly roll calf area to find the most tender spot. Hold that spot for 30-90 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Foam rolling your hamstrings:
Foam rolling your feet:
Hip & lower back pain release:
Foam rolling low back pain:
Foam rolling to improve posture:
I tried to make these videos myself… but we figured out that my husband isn’t a great camera man, we don’t have a great video camera and the sound was awful, and I don’t know how to edit for the life of me. Also, you’ll notice all of the videos use the foam roller I recommended above because they really are amazing!
BONUS?! My son loves to use my foam roller as a toy when I’m not using it. It’s literally his favorite toy now.
FYI: Foam rolling is not appropriate everyone, including those with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions. If you have medical issues, seek the advice of a medical professional before starting SMR or foam rolling activities.
I hope this helped! If you have any questions, please comment below.