To Roll or Not to Roll…….Keep rollin’!! Foam Rolling, the basics

 

“Move in, now move out
Hands up, now hands down
Back up, back up
Tell me what you’re gonna do now
Breathe in, now breathe out
Hands up, now hands down
Back up, back up
Tell me what you’re gonna do now.
Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ (what)
Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ (come on)
Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ (yeah)
Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’” – Limp Bizkit 

“Ok Keith, I have heard you spout off about this foam roller thing on you dumb blog, and even heard you talking about it at a bar down the shore one night! What is it, and how do I do it??”

Obviously I love the foam roller. I cannot say it in the same context that I will say I love chocolate, or I love the beach, or even how much I love to watch 24 and the Family Guy…But lets be clear, when it comes to feeling better, and being better, I love the foam roller. So what is the foam roller and what do you do with it. Where do I get one of these? And finally, how can I use it and feel better?

I like to explain to the general public that foam rolling is much like getting a deep tissue massage. Only YOU control the massage and it won’t cost you 50 plus bucks each time you use it. But I also like to explain that foam rolling is much more than a massage too.

Most people have major muscle imbalances and this usually causes an entire muscle group to get very tight, or over activated. Also, most people have a laundry list of past and present physical trauma that has caused a body full of knots, scar tissue and sticky adhesions to form all over their muscles and tendons. Rolling can and will help work out those adhesions, scar tissue, knots and also help to restore normal flexibility and range of motion.

Foam rolling, to be technical, is a form of self myofascial release (SMR). SMR allows the muscle to relax and this in turn can help rid the areas of the unwanted scaring, knots, and ugly adhesions. Muscles need to be strong and supple at the same time through an entire range of motion. Foam rolling helps the body achieve this. Just as I believe that stretching is essential for good overall muscle health, foam rolling is in the same category. While stretching elongates the muscle tissue, foam rolling helps to ensure proper muscle quality.

To get started you will need a foam roller. These can be purchased in some specialty stores, or in some gyms. The best place to find and get on is on the internet. I purchased mine from http://www.performbetter.com/SearchResult.aspx_Q_CategoryID_E_235 . Or you can do a search and fine numerous sites that carry them. Either way, they are cheap (you can get one from about $10.00 – $20.00) and don’t take up any room.

Once you have your roller, now what?

Foam Rolling Techniques  

Foam rolling is pretty simple to learn and with some practice, you can set up a routine for your whole body within a short period of time. At the very least, you will be able to roll your trouble spots each day with no difficulty

In a nutshell you place the roller between your muscle and the floor and you use your body weight to gently and slowly roll for the entire length of your muscle. When you reach that painful spot, (you will know it when you do) stop rolling and use your body weight to press down. Hold that spot until the pain goes away. If the pain does not seem to go away, don’t worry, just continue rolling and hit all of your “spots”. Eventually, through practice and repetition, you will start to find relief. Remember, these painful areas are around because of years of bad habits, injuries, and other traumas so they wont go away entirely overnight.

Other tips:

  • When rolling your legs for example, use both legs in the beginning and to add more pressure, cross one leg over the other. Do one leg at a time like this and you will feel a lot more pressure and get a lot more out of it.
  • For longer muscle groups (ie. Hamstrings, and quadriceps) do parts of the muscle at a time. Start at the top of the muscle and spend some time there, before going to the bottom of the muscle.
  • Try to roll in insides and outsides of your muscles. For example, perform some rolling on the medial or inside of your calf and then roll the lateral or outside of the calf muscle. The same strategy can be followed for most large muscle groups in the body.

Basically, you can roll almost any part of your body. Be especially careful on the low back and avoid it all together if you don’t have a lot of beef down there in the first place.

Start off slow, get a schedule down, and keep rolling. Eventually it will become a normal part of your exercise routine and you will find relief and start feeling better all over.

2 Responses to To Roll or Not to Roll…….Keep rollin’!! Foam Rolling, the basics

  1. Leo says:

    Great article Keith. Last Sunday I watched a player in the NFL work the foam roller on the sideline. This is something definitely worth trying.

  2. kescott45 says:

    It takes a while. You need to keep doing it, but make sure there is not more of a problem too. Give it a few more weeks and try some static stretching of the hamstrings as well

    -Keith

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