The foam roller, a staple in any gym goers rehab or recovery kit. You may have seen them in your gym and either not known what they are or not known how to use them, but allow us to explain and share with you our top 8 ways to use the foam roller and stay on top of your recovery between training sessions.
What Is A Foam Roller?
Foam Rollers are cylinder shaped devices that allow people to relieve tightness in the fascia via self-myofascial release or massage.
Fascia is the connective tissue that attaches your muscles, bones and ligaments together and provides general support all over the body. The fascia is intended to be elastic-like, and when it’s in good shape it stretches and moves as your body performs actions and movements. However, if you regularly perform intense workouts, or do no exercise and have poor posture, fascia can tighten and turn stiff, which in turn causes reduced movement or pain.
When fascia does become stiff or tight, it produced ‘trigger point’ or knots. Trigger points are little patches of contracted muscle fibres, and if left can cause pain and discomfort. They are painful because the muscles are in a state of tension. If left untreated trigger point issues can lead to injury, as other muscles take over, compensating with the strain placed on them.
In many cases gentle stretching can help to elevate some stiffness or tightness. However, if a person is excessively tight or limited in their movement, we would suggest booking in for a sports massage, or schedule 5-10 minutes of foam rolling into your daily routine, or as often as possible.
The Benefits Of Using A Foam Roller
Relieves pain or soreness
Lengthens muscles and prevents injury
Our Top 8 Ways To Use A Foam Roller:
Quads (front of the thighs) – This exercise can be performed by rolling each leg individually or the two together. Please see images below.
Upper Back – Start with the shoulders resting on the foam roller and your bottom of the floor, lift you bottom and walk your feet towards your head as the roller moves forwards and backwards over the upper back. Please note, if you have a ponytail or are wearing a hood tuck it in before starting to roll.
Hamstrings (back of thighs) – Like the quads, this exercise can be performed by rolling each leg individually or the two together. Use your hands to stabilise yourself and your core strength to move the roller from above the knees all the way up to the bottom.
IT Band(side of the thigh) – This is likely to be the most uncomfortable, so go easy as you perform this movement. Place the top leg on the floor to provide support as you gentle roll the other, starting by the knee and rolling all the way up to the hip.
Glutes (bottom) – Cross one leg over the thigh and sit onto the foam roller. With the legs which remains on the floor, use it to move the roller across the bottom.
Lower Back – Begin by placing the back across the mid/upper back. As you move the roller down towards the lower back go easy as the lower back for many people can be quite sensitive. To take some pressure off of the lower back you can place one foot onto the floor to transfer some of the weight from the body to the leg.
Lats – Begin by laying onto your side with your arm above the head, place the roller under the arm pit and move the roller up and down the side. Hold and apply pressure if you find a trigger point
Calf – Here you can choose to roll on calf at a time or both together.
We recommend you spend a couple of mins rolling each muscle and a little longer for areas that are particularly tight. Please note for many of these exercises a tennis ball can also work well too.