How to Foam Roll & Why It is Important
I started foam rolling back in my college running days to help our muscles feel better after super hard or long workouts in the gym and track. Now that I've had my share of post college running injuries, aches, and pains, I've started back up again with my foam rolling regimen and have noticed a BIG improvement in how fast I recover. It’s also something I absolutely loooove doing before bed to relax.
Here's why foam rolling helps muscles bounce back faster:
- targets tense fibers by loosening them up and reducing soreness
- lengthens muscles that have been shortened by repetitive and intense movement
- increase blood flow in the muscle
- restores balance around joints
- improves range of motion (ROM) and flexibility of muscles around those joints
- plus! they help you feel relaxed because they release the tension in your muscles, ligaments, and joints
Even though it can take a big chunk out of our day I really encourage to take 5-10 minutes to target certain muscles that can benefit from foam rolling. A few things I want to make note of is that if you are experiencing painful hot spots and can barely touch over the area or feel even worse after these massages--go seek medical attention. You may need to have an x-ray performed in case you have a fracture. You can also go see a practitioner that specializes in sports therapy.
These are few target areas and sequence I like to do:
1. IT Band
Start from hip areas and move slowly down towards the knee. Go back and forth slowly for 2 minutes. Do on both sides (right and left)
Begin at the top of the hip and go down your quad to just above the knee. You can do each quadricep by itself or both at same time. Doing one at a time can provide a more intense massage. Go back and forth slowly for 2 minutes max.
Start right under the ankle and work your way up to below the back of the knee to get your calve area. To get a more intense massage you can do one at a time, or both at the same time. Move back and forth for 2 minutes max.
I recommend to do your back if you have no prior medical issues and your doctor clears you to do back massages with a foam roller. To get a good exercise, you can start at the shoulder blades or at the neck and work your way down to the lower back. Move slowly through this area for 1-2 minutes.
In these next few exercises I use a massage stick to work through tightness in my anterior tibial, hamstring, and inner thigh areas. If you do not have a massage stick you can still use a foam roller to target them but it may be more diffucult to really get these specific areas.
5. Anterior Tibia
Begin at left outer side of shin (NOT the front/center part of leg/shin) and slowly move stick from top to bottom towards your ankle. Apply pressure with stick. Repeat motion for 2 minutes max
Move stick from under gluteal area to back of knee. Apply pressure as you massage through for 2 minutes max.
7. Inner Thigh
Begin by applying pressure to the muscles on the inner side of your thigh. It helps to follow the seam of your pants/leggings from your knee area up to the groin area. Move back and forth for up to 2 minutes.
8. Foot Arch
Using a tennis ball, you can also apply pressure on certain areas that may be tight and stiff. Work through the foot area for about 1 minute. Since this is much more targeted massage because of ball, you don't want to massage for too long. Lengthening the massage can cause you to overwork the muscle and tendons to where it ends up feeling more tired and tense.