Hello there! Now that our new runners over in the Shrinking Jeans Virtual c25k program have made it through their first week, I’d like to introduce you all to some basic foam rolling techniques that can help keep your muscles happy and healthy. Foam rolling is an inexpensive form of self-massage. Proper rolling can help loosen adhesions in the muscles and connective tissue, speed recovery, and increase blood flow to the area.
A few things to keep in mind:
1. Really any roller will do. You don’t have to go buy something fancy – your rolling pin in the kitchen will do in a pinch. Rollers do vary in size and density. The harder the roller the more you will feel it. Once your foam roller starts to look squished in the middle, it’s time to buy a new one.
2. How do you foam roll? You can find a trigger point (sore or tight spot) and simply apply pressure there or you can roll along the entire length of the muscle. Or, you can do both. Go slowly – most sites recommend about a second per inch. If you come to a very tight spot, pause there for 5-30 seconds and you should feel the area relax, then continue the rest of the length of the muscle.
3. Do not roll over joints, bones or injured tissue.
4. How often should you foam roll? You should foam roll after every workout for at least 10-15 minutes. Some people will roll a little bit to warm up before a run as well. Adding in another 10-15 minutes of stretching is a great strategy as well. At minimum, you should roll 10 slow repetitions of each exercise, but you can certainly do more than this. Make sure you roll both sides of your body equally.
Here is a video demonstrating basic foam rolling for runners with the emphasis on your lower body. (Yes, this is yours truly filming in my basement workout room – complete with cat photo bomb.) There are many more uses for your foam roller for your arms, back, sides, etc, but this is just a little bit to get you started.
A word of caution – if you are new to foam rolling or have a very tight area, this WILL hurt. Suck it up, cupcake! That being said, the goal isn’t to see how high your pain tolerance can get. We are trying to restore healthy tissue, not cause bruises. You might be sore the next day, similar to a really good deep tissue massage, but you should never push yourself to the point of excessive soreness. Just like a really good massage, make sure you drink tons of water afterwards, eat right and get a good night’s sleep. This will help flush the gunk
totally scientific term from your system and help your muscles heal more quickly.
As with any exercise program, consult with your doctor or a physical therapist if you have specific questions or something doesn’t feel quite right. Happy rolling!