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Foam rollers are an excellent investment for anyone serious about working out! Warm-up and recovery are just as important as the rest of your workout, and I always recommend using these great tools. Here I’ll take you through the specific steps to follow, with some demonstration pictures.
It seems as if there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I know we all attempt to walk the delicate balance between work, relationships, responsibilities, workouts and of course a little bit of fun when we find the time. Even with these busy schedules, most fitness enthusiasts make the time to get their workouts in throughout the week. But all too often the recovery aspects of our programs get squeezed out along the way. Even though we’ve all heard the old adage “You make the most gains when you are at rest”, when it comes to deciding between a couple more work out sets or actually spending time on stretching or mobility, all too often the stretching is sacrificed for more work out.
The truth is, you wouldn’t expect a Ferrari to race around at high speeds without a bit of maintenance right? So why do we try to beat the crap out of our bodies 5 to 6 days a week without proper rest and expect to not get injured?
While the beauty of bodyweight training is its simplicity and lack of equipment (my own arsenal consists only of rings, parallettes and a stability ball), one of the tools that I also always recommend and add into my own training is a foam roller.
It’s as easy as this, a muscle that is too tight, taught or full of trigger points will not produce as much power. So not only are you losing potential strength, but your risk of injury is significantly increased.
How to Foam Roll
For those of you who are not familiar with foam rolling, this is how it works:
Foam rolling is a form of self myo-fascial release. The body is made up of fascial tissue that covers the entire length of the body from top of the head to the tips of the toes. Within the fascial tissue and the muscle fibers we can form “trigger points” which are painful, taught bands that can become thick, tough and knotted. The trigger points can be caused by physical trauma, poor posture, over training, inadequate rest and even poor nutrition.
So if we think of the fascial tissue/trigger points as the dough and the foam roller as the rolling pin then self myo-fascial release is very similar to rolling out dough.
Keep in mind that foam rolling can be a bit uncomfortable in the beginning but as you make it more of a practice, you’ll notice that you’ll find less painful areas.
Foam rolling is very specific to the individual, and should be gauged by time and feeling. The basic instruction is to roll or stay on a specific area until the discomfort decreases by about 70 percent. This could take 30 seconds or a matter of minutes. Here’s some general guidelines to help get you started:
- Spend 1-2 minutes per self myofascial release technique and on each side (when applicable).
- When a trigger point is found (painful area) hold for 30-45 seconds.
- Keep the abdominal muscles tight which provides stability to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex during rolling.
- Remember to breathe slowly as this will help to reduce any tense reflexes caused by discomfort.
- Foam rolling can and should be done daily!
If you don’t already have your own foam roller, check out the ones I recommend from from
Perform Better HERE.
Foam Rolling Variations
Glute and Deep Hip RotatorCross the leg of the side that you intend to focus on over the opposite leg. Place the top of your glute (butt) on top of the foam roller. Shift your bodyweight into the side you are rolling. Slowly make your way down to the bottom of the glute, where the hamstring starts. Stop on any area that you feel discomfort. If the pain is unbearable, use your supporting arm to lift some of your bodyweight off of the roller.
IT BandBegin by laying the hip of the focus leg on top of the foam roller. Make sure that the focus leg is completely straight and the roll starts at the very top of the hip. Cross the opposite leg over with the foot flat on the ground. Slowly roll your way all the way down to just above the knee. This can be a very intense area, so take your time with the roll and move down just an inch or so at a time, backing off when it becomes too intense. You may also use the arms to lift some of your bodyweight off of the roller when needed.
AdductorsLay face down with arms bent and forearms on the ground. Bend your leg out to the side at a 90 degree bend at the hip and 90 degrees at the knee. You should start with the foam roller as close to the groin as possible. Move your body away from the roller as you make your way down to the inside of the knee. Be sure to keep the abdomin drawn in to support the spine.
HamstringsPlace hands on the ground behind you to support your bodyweight. Fully extend the focus leg. Bend the opposite leg and place foot flat in front of the foam roller. Start at the origin of the hamstring which is just under the glute. Keep your hips directly under your shoulders. Begin to walk your arms backwards as you roll the entire length of the hamstring, stopping just under the knee.
If you don’t already have your own foam roller, check out the ones I recommend from
Perform Better HERE.