Whether you’re a runner, a weightlifter, or a rock climber, everyone gets sore from time to time.
If you’re aren’t foam rolling regularly, your sport of choice is probably causing you a lot more soreness than you’d like. It could also be contributing to slow recovery, joint issues, and muscle imbalances — all of which are not conducive to overall health and functionality.
Want looser muscles and faster recovery but aren’t sure where to start? If so, read on for some great foam rolling tips that you can start implementing today.
The Research on Foam Rolling
Foam rolling, also referred to as self-myofascial release, is a relatively new modality for remedying muscle soreness and speeding up recovery and it hasn’t been thoroughly researched. But, the amount of research that has been conducted is quite promising.
Studies show that, with the help of consistent foam rolling, athletes can significantly increase their joint range of motion when performing exercises like lunges and squats. Foam rolling also has been shown to improve muscle performance both before and after a workout.
Foam rolling is especially beneficial for athletes who are struggling with chronic issues like joint pain or iliotibial band syndrome. When coupled with proper support equipment during exercise, foam rolling is one of the options for overly tense or sore athletes.
Foam Rolling Tips
In order to see the greatest amount of benefits from foam rolling, it’s important to use proper technique when working on your tight, aching muscles.
Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of each foam rolling session:
Take a Full-Body Approach
Sometimes, you hold tension in areas that aren’t actually sore. Don’t focus solely on the areas that are noticeably sore or tense. Instead, take some time to roll out all the large muscles in the body, including the calves, quads, glutes, hip flexors, thoracic spine, and pectoral muscles. This will help you loosen everything up and minimize discomfort throughout the body.
Don’t Chase the Pain
No pain, no gain is not the right attitude to take when it comes to foam rolling. Foam rolling often comes with quite a bit of discomfort, but you shouldn’t feel extreme pain.
If you’re not able to breathe deeply and fully while rolling over a specific area, you’re using too much pressure and need to lighten up.
Don’t Roll Over Injured Areas
In the same vein, make sure you’re also not rolling directly over injured areas. For example, if your iliotibial band hurts, don’t foam roll directly on top of it.
Instead, focus on loosening up the muscles around the iliotibial band — the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. When these muscles are tight, they can pull on your iliotibial band and cause pain and inflammation.
Take Your Time
To see the greatest results from your foam rolling session, be sure to move slowly so your muscles have time to really relax.
That being said, don’t move too slowly, either. Dedicate between one and two minutes to each muscle group before moving on.
If you go beyond this, you could end up with bruises. You might also irritate the tissue to produce further inflammation, and, you could even cause nerve damage.
Use Good Form
If you’re foam rolling properly, your body temperature is definitely going to increase. This is especially true when you’re rolling out large muscle groups like the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
Proper foam rolling form requires you to support yourself with your weight primarily on your hands while keeping your core engaged. This engagement is especially important for avoiding twisting that could hurt your back.
Finally, remember that it can take a little while for you to start to experience the benefits of foam rolling. It’s definitely not a one-time fix.
Make sure you’re consistent — foam roll daily, if possible, or at least 3-4 times per week.
The Bottom Line
Regular foam rolling provides tons of benefits for all kinds of athletes. It improves mobility, muscle performance, and speeds up recovery to help you get back to your favorite activities sooner.
Give these foam rolling tips a try today, and you’ll start seeing improvements before you know it.