Have you ever noticed the blue foam thingy ma-jiggy in the corner of the gym and wondered what it was and what it is for?
by Katie Cripps
You may have seen people rolling themselves on it, pulling some interesting if not slightly pained facials. Let me fill you in… The foam roller is a tool you can add into your training regime which can aid stretching, improve muscle tone, reduce adhesions and scar tissue accumulation and relieve tension. It allows you the ability to deep tissue massage and provides self-myofascial release (SMR).
It’s not hard to do, although you might feel a little uncomfortable when you first try it out. It is worth preserving with it until you feel comfortable with the technique. In essence you use your body as a weight to apply pressure between the floor, foam roller and your body.
- Go slow, roll at a slow even pace
- Pay special attention to the spots that are most sore, stop and bear down on them, move on once the pain has subsided
- To increase pressures on a soft spot apply more body weight, by working one leg at a time or by “stacking” which is where you put one of your legs on top of the other to increase the tension.
- Try working proximal (nearest the center of the body) to the distal (away from the center of the body) attachment of the muscle. E.g. instead of working your quadriceps from top to bottom all in one shot, shorten your stroke a little bit. Work the top half first, and after it has loosened up, move on to the bottom half
Here are a couple of my favorites
You’ll want to try these with the feet turned in, out, and pointing straight ahead to completely work the entire hamstring complex. Balance on your hands with your hamstrings resting on the roller, then roll from the base of the glutes to the knee. To increase loading, you can stack one leg on top of the other.
Gluteus Medius and Piriformis:
Lie on your side with the “meaty” part of your lateral glutes (just posterior to the head of the femur) resting on the roller. Balance on one elbow with the same side leg on the ground and roll that lateral aspect of your glutes from top to bottom.
Set up like you’re going to roll your hamstrings, but sit on the roller instead. Roll your rump. Enough said.
This, too, is similar in positioning to the hamstrings roll; you’re just rolling knee to ankle. Try this with the toes up (dorsiflexion) and down (plantarflexion). Stack one leg on top of the other to increase loading.
With your arms folded across your chest, lie supine with the roller positioned under your midback. Elevate the glutes and roll from the base of the scapulae to the top of the pelvis. You’ll want to emphasize one side at a time with a slight lean to one side.
Thoracic Extensors, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids:
With your arms behind your head (not pulling on the neck), lie supine with roller positioned in the middle of your back; your glutes should be on the ground. Roll upward, reversing direction when you reach the level of the armpits. This is an excellent intervention for correcting kyphosis.
Hopefully I have convinced you to at least give it a try.
Ask a staff member to give you a hand (it’s what we are here for)! Happy rolling
Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson