Editor’s Note: We always have a love/hate relationship with certain things, like foam rollers. There is no doubt to how effective this low cost tool is for runners and other active people. So, learn it, live it and love it!
Self-Myofascial Release, also referred to as “foam rolling” is a stretching technique similar to a deep tissue massage that focuses on loosening overactive and tight muscles. Foam Rolling can be used as a warm up and before static stretching and as a cool down to relax tightened muscles. It is beneficial for flexibility, reducing injuries, improving muscle imbalances, muscle recovery, and overall performance.
To begin, slowly roll on desired area to find a possible knot or tender spot. Hold pressure on the knot for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds or until the discomfort is reduced before releasing. By applying gentle pressure to the knot you are stimulating the Golgi tendon which will relax the underlying muscular tension. This process assists with restoring the soft tissue back to its optimal level of function. Once pressure is reduced, the key is to continue to roll slowly (1 inch per minute) over muscle group area, not a fast rapid roll.
As runners, we have a tendency to focus stretching our lower body, however rolling our back region is important as well. By relaxing these muscles, flexibility increases which assists greatly with our overall posture and in return our running form is enhanced.
For optimal pressure, place right leg over left and place foam roller under mid-calf, shift body weight to comfort level and slowly roll calf area to find most tender spot. For less pressure uncross legs.
Lie on one side, place foam roller in front of hip. For more assistance, cross the top leg over lower leg, with foot touching the floor and the bottom leg raised slightly off floor. Slowly roll from hip joint to knee.
Sit on top of the foam roller, position on the back of the hip, glute area, cross one foot to the opposite knee. Slightly lean body weight into the hip for more pressure and slowly move around to find desired spot.
In a seated position, position foam roller under legs to the back of upper legs, place hands to the side to support weight, lift your hips and firmly shift weight to one leg. Slowly roll from below the hip to above the knee to find desired tension point.
Lie prone, place foam roller underneath top of leg, and keep foot off the ground. Shift weight to one side, roll from knee to below the hip until tension is reduced. Switch weight to opposite leg.
Lie on the floor to one side with arm extended; place the foam roller under your arm. Slowly move back and forth to find tension points.
Lay flat on your back, placing the foam roller under the upper back. Raise your hips off the ground and stabilize your head in a neutral position. Shift weight to one side at a time, rolling upper to middle of back.