HOW TO USE A FOAM ROLLER
As a runner we should be foam rolling more to help release the tightness of our tired legs and recover. For me, I use it every day and it is so efficient to help release our tight muscles, and soreness, followed by stretches.
Benefits of Foam Rollers
Foam rollers can be used to help improve athletic performance. Foam rollers claim to improve muscle and connective tissue flexibility, to help muscles recover and to reduce post-exercise fatigue, soreness and stiffness.
Foam rolling is a form of self-massage, there's some evidence to suggest foam rolling can increase the efficiency of training or competition preparation and for accelerating post-exercise recovery.
Post-workout foam rolling not only helps to alleviate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) but also improves sprint time, power output and strength endurance in the days following a tough session.
Foam rolling can help retain sprint performance and flexibility, as well as reduce perceptions of muscle soreness.
If we start foam rolling regularly, benefits include feeling less stiff, improve recovery and is also a good warm-up tool to prep muscles for exercise.
How To Start If We’ve Never Used A Foam Roller
Foam rollers can be a little challenging to use, especially if we haven’t used it before. Place the foam roller underneath the muscle you want to roll and release, then use your body weight to apply pressure to the soft tissues with a rolling motion.
Just trying it and exploring the benefits, foam rolling gives us is the best start to see the great tight muscle release .
Can Foam Rolling Feel A Bit Painful?
Foam rolling can feel sore because it compresses muscle tissue, which is innervated with lots of sensory nerves. Foam rolling following exercise can also be more uncomfortable as the muscles will be sore already from exercise. During exercise lactic acid builds up in muscles and micro damage to our muscle fibres can happen. It is important to note at this point, that this is a normal effect of exercise. Foam rolling on top of this can be sore as these effects of exercise can cause low levels of muscle ache and pain, therefore further stressing these already sore tissues. Some research has shown positive effects of foam rolling for recovery, suggesting that even with some discomfort, when doing it can be beneficial. To do the foam rolling later post-run will be more efficient and less pain. The recommendation is to foam roll and do good stretches later at night, which will also make us feel more relaxed and support a much better sleep.
Best Types Of Foam Rollers
Since foam rollers became popular, there are different options for runners. Here’s how to pick the best one for you:
Firmness- For a foam rolling beginner, a roller may feel like a painful device. Digging into sore muscles after a tough run or workout session takes some getting used to, which is why the firmness of a foam roller determines how much good pain you are willing to handle.
Texture- Like firmness, the texture of a roller will determine the level of intensity. This can range from a perfectly smooth surface, to a spiky, really intense one.
Portability- If you’re looking to travel with your roller during your next race, you'll want something that fits in a standard suitcase.
Tech- For an added level of muscle activation, many new foam rollers on the market now include vibration.
If we don’t have much time to foam roll what basic exercises should we focus on?
Running obviously put a lot of exercise strain on the lower limbs, starting foam rolling on these major muscle groups. This could be done as a warm-up pre-run or as part of a post-run recovery programme. Foam rolling the major muscle groups (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles) for a period of 1-2 minutes on each muscle group is a good place to start.
The recommendation to perform foam rolling many times is aiming for 2-4 times/week, and we should also focus on what really works for us.
A continued hot topic for runners is foam rolling the ITB. Evidence has shown that foam rolling the ITB (iliotibial band) has little effect on the length and is often a painful exercise. It is widely agreed that targeted strengthening of the glute muscles and changes in running biomechanics is more effective. But foam rolling ITB mildly and much shorter time will be very efficient to release the soreness and tightness.
The Top 5 Foam Rolling Exercises For Short Schedule
To perform these 5 foam rolling exercises after our post-run routine will help boost recovery and keep ourself running strong.
Sit on the foam roller (pointing forwards) and put your right ankle on the left knee, leaning to the right.
Roll and play with how much you can tilt to the right.
Sit with your legs out in front, ankles crossed and the roller under your thighs. Use your arms to support your weight behind you.
Gradually push your body up and down so it moves over the roller under the backs of your thighs.
3. LOWER BACK
Sit on the roller then pull your right knee into your chest.
Roll up and down over your glutes and lower back.
Start face down with your forearms and right foot on the floor to steady you and the roller under your hips. Roll down towards the left knee joint.
Roll back up, playing with the amount of weight you can take off the right leg.
5. IT BAND
Lie on your left side with the roller under the left hip.
Slide the roller down to the knee and back up. When you hit a tender point, hold for up to 60 seconds or until the pain is reduced by half.
Perform Some Great Foam Rolling Exercises, Feel Better Muscles, Less Soreness, Enjoy Much Better Runs!