Everyone has heard how important it is to stretch those muscles, right? Maintaining flexibility is equally important as maintaining muscle and cardiovascular endurance. I am ashamed to admit that more often than I should I’ll finish a workout without giving my muscles, tendons & ligaments the proper stretch session they deserve. This was all before I met Mr. Foam Roller, of course.
What is a foam roller?
- A foam roller is generally a piece of foam in the shape of a tube about 12-36 inches with about 6-inch diameter. Most gyms have the 36 in size but there is variety available.
- Foam rollers are often made out of different densities of foam material depending on the amount of force meant to be applied to the muscle.
- Some rollers are not made of only foam but plastic or another hard material. The firmer the roller the more pressure that will be applied to the area.
- Virtually any object can be used in lieu of a foam roller so long as the surface is smooth, round & can provide your preferred pressure to affected muscle. For example, a tennis ball or softball would suffice if all you are looking to do is spot treat a particular sore tendon or muscle in a particular area. However, a foam roller is still the best option to get the full benefits.
Tips & Techniques:
- Line roller perpendicular to spine and slowly roll up and down spinal column applying pressure using body weight. As you feel a tender area slow down and gradually apply more pressure to affected area and hold for as long as you wish.
- The more pressure and the longer pressure is applied the more benefit
- Lying face down use foam roller to roll out sore muscles in your anterior legs (hip flexors, tensor fasciae latae, quad muscles, sartorius, and muscles making up the shins). Place foam roller perpendicular to body and slow at the spots that feel sore. Apply pressure, hold and use the foam roller to dig deep into those knots.
- By lying on either side use the foam roller to reach those hard to reach muscles such as the piriformis and psoas by applying pressure to each buttock until those hard to reach sore spots are able to feel the pressure from the foam roller.
Benefits of using a foam roller:
- Pressure applied to sore muscles using a foam roller encourages the release of built up toxins in the muscle.
- Breaking down sore muscle tissue by applying pressure with a foam roller is often referred to as an equivalent to expensive trigger-point therapy used by many physical therapists.
- Foam rolling can be done at the gym, home, outside or even on short breaks at work to get the blood flowing.
- While caring for muscles through proper massage therapy is still encouraged, reap the benefits of those treatments by using a foam roller in between sessions to show those well deserved muscles love every day.
- Foam rolling can be used on virtually any muscle in the body which is just not something traditional methods of stretching are able to accomplish.
- Studies have been popping up to encourage athletes to stray away from the more conventional methods of static stretching. Those “old school” static stretches that we are all so used to can actually do damage to our muscles. Often times the muscles are not properly warmed up and/or the tendons & ligaments are notcausing tears from overstretching when they are not