Foam Rolling? What’s that?

by Caroline

Last weekend, I introduced a few of my (Boston-marathon-training)-roommates to “foam rolling”. And since then, our room has been full of talk about foam rolling. In fact, they now just refer to it as “rolling” and swear it must have been sent from God.

The truth is, I’ve been trying to convince them of it’s amazingness for months. I discovered foam rolling over a year ago when I first joined the blogging world and ever since then I’ve been addicted. I honestly feel like it’s my job now to share foam rolling with the rest of the world like someone (luckily!) did for me.

So foam rolling. What is it? What does it do?

A foam roller (as shown on the right) is designed to provide an inexpensive and easy way to achieve the same benefits as a deep-muscle massage. This is especially important to runners because it increases flexibility and decreases muscle tension, helping to prevent injury and improve performance.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear about something that prevents injury I’m all over it! My school has a bunch of high density foam rollers at the gym but now that I’m home for a month, I needed to get one of my own and now even my moms got into foam rolling!

There are so many different exercises you can do with the foam roller. Here is my typical post-run foam rolling routine:

  1. Calves – To do this I sit with the foam roller under one calf, with the other leg on top of it. My hands are supporting my body on the ground behind me. Then I roll slowly up and down the calf muscle, paying special attention to anywhere I feel extra tight.  Then repeat on the other leg.
  2. HamstringsI sit with the roller under one thigh, once again stacking my feet on top of each other and my hands behind me on the ground. Then, I slowly roll up and down my hamstring from the top of my knee to the bottom of my hip bone. Then repeat on the other leg.
  3. Quadriceps – Then, I flip over and lie face down with the foam roller on my thigh and elbows to the ground for support. Once again, I slowly roll up and down my quad from the top of my knee to the bottom of my hip. Then repeat on the other leg.
  4. IT Band (aka my favorite exercise) – Already facing down, I shift my weight to one side and slowly roll up and down my IT band. Then repeat on the other side. (as shown in picture below)
  5. Sometimes I also roll out my shins, butt and back.

Some tips that I have been told about using a foam roller:

  • The slower the better, focusing on areas that are tight, reduced motion, or painful.
  • Perform the foam roller exercises after you’re muscles are warm or post-work out, I have even read that you should foam roll right after exercise before stretching.
  • Avoid rolling directly over bones or joints.

I honestly believe foam rolling has made a significant difference in my running performance and has helped me to prevent injury. No matter how much I’m pressed for time I always make room for foam rolling, even before stretching. So what are you waiting for? Get rolling!

Do you foam roll? If so, what are you favorite exercises? Is there a certain time when you roll? Have you noticed a difference in your performance?

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~ by freshinkblog on February 17, 2011.

One Response to “Foam Rolling? What’s that?”

  1. It’s funny I just arrived in AZ and I was thinking earlier- I really hope the gym has a foam roller haha

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