Time for our Workout Of The Month. Each month we take a look at something fitness related and break it down in a way that you can understand it so that you can apply it to your life. Sometimes we take a look at a specific workout and break it down. This month I want to take a moment and talk about something we should all be doing: foam rolling. I see a lot of people foam rolling and a lot of people doing it incorrectly. Here are some basic instructions on how to foam roll properly.

How To Do Foam Rolling Properly

I am a firm believer in foam rolling muscle tissue. A while back I wrote about some benefits of foam rolling. For a more detailed description of those benefits, be sure to check out that post. But for a cliff notes version, here is a run down of the health benefits to foam rolling:

  • Foam rolling helps to maintain optimal muscle tension by breaking up muscle knots and scar tissue.
  • Foam rolling helps to increase blood flow to tissue.
  • Foam rolling helps to release nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels.

Steps To Doing Foam Rolling

Foam rolling has incredible benefits but I don’t always see people doing it with the proper technique. The most common problem I see when people do this exercise is that people rush through the rolling. People also often move the roller through the muscle tissue at speeds that are way too fast. My one tip in a nutshell would be: slow down and take your time when foam rolling.

Recently, the National Academy of Sports Medicine conducted a thorough review of existing foam rolling research. To be honest with you, some of the research was inconclusive when it came to the speed at which to roll muscle tissue. When it comes to foam rolling properly, their overall recommendation was to apply a variety of speeds and techniques.

Foam Rolling Properly

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, these are the steps one should take when performing the foam rolling technique:

  1. Search First: use the foam roller to slowly roll through your targeted muscle tissue (such as your leg). This movement will help you to identify tender spots and prepare the tissue by increasing blood flow to the area.
  2. Destroy: Using the foam roller, hold firm pressure to the most tender spots along the length of the muscle.
  3. Mobilize: The recommendation from the National Academy of Sports medicine is to roll the tender spots in a variety aside from going just up and down. For example, try going across the muscle. Another recommendation is to stretch the muscle while foam rolling. For example, if you’re foam rolling your calves, point your toes out in front of you and then to your face to stretch your calf and foam roll at the same time. This foam rolling and stretching will help to increase pull of the foam roller and your muscles to work out scar tissue and muscle adhesions.
  4. Flush: Finally during the last steps, roll the foam roller along the the length of the muscle slowly for a handful of times. Do this without worrying about stopping on tender spots.

That’s all there is to it. Simple, right?

When To Do Foam Rolling

There’s not necessarily a bad time to do foam rolling if you’re thinking in terms of before or after a workout. For me personally, I’ll do it every time I work out. I primarily target my hip flexors and calves. Those muscles are consistently tight on my body. Foam rolling before a workout can help prime the muscles to be at their optimal length for performance. Foam rolling towards the end of a workout can help increase blood flow to muscles and aid with healing.

If you foam roll, what do you what do you like to do to get the best out of foam rolling? Share your stories below.

 

Sources:

1. http://yourlivingbody.com/2013/12/04/does-foam-rolling-work/
2. Stull, K. “Foam Rolling Techniques: A 4 Step Formula.” National Academy Of Sports Medicine. 2017. Web. 4 August 2017.