I say “friend” the foam roller….ok…so I appreciate that most of your (nice!) friends don’t generally inflict pain on you quite like your trusty foam roller. However, trust me when I tell you it’s actually your lifelong friend and fitness partner in crime (I promise!) Sure you’ve seen these weird long cylinder type rollers around the gyms, maybe even rolled around on one a bit! But do you know why you’re foam rolling? For most people, foam rolling, like stretching is one of those things they plan on doing if they have extra time in their day—meaning they never actually get around to doing it. Here’s where most people go wrong with their training.
I’m as guilty as the next person for not committing enough time and energy into my mobility work. This has lead to me suffering with knee problems in the past. Problems ignored then later lead to full blown injuries – and no one wants that! So from now on I’m commiting to at least 4-5 days of foam rolling and mobility work for 20-30 minutes per day.
Here’s a video to show you my foam rolling routine. Generally I try to do this routine as often as possible. Ideally it’s something you do everyday. In reality at the moment it’s probably just whenever you can squeeze it in. I can tell you from experience (hello knee problems) that it is 1000% worthwhile making time to schedule it in your diary. Think of it as less of a bonus and more as an integral part of your training.
Here’s 5 reasons why you should use a foam roller…
1) It breaks up scar tissue
Training and day to day life causes adhesions in the muscle. Slowly these begin to build up. The foam roller and stretching can help smooth this tension out – like a massage would. Without the stretching and foam rolling, adhesions begin to build and can lead to decreased range of motion in joints and eventually injury. Better still your work on the foam roller will also help aid muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness the next day after your workouts.
2) It will improve your range of motion
When you start with foam rolling at the beginning of your workout you prepare the body for training. It helps move blood around the body and allows you to get deeper in each position thereafter. By ending the workout foam rolling, you’ll recover faster and rebuild muscle.
3) It will improve your flexibility
Foam rolling can improve your performance and make you a more flexible, healthier athlete in general. Allowing for full range of motion and less knots to build within the muscle you will become more mobile, reducing injury risk, keeping you healthy and in tip top shape (long term!)
4) Improve circulation and removes toxins
By stimulating the lymphatic system foam rolling helps eliminate toxins from the body. This also helps with better oxygen delivery to the cells and improved circulation.
5) It helps you destress
By releasing the tension in the body you will automatically feel less stressed – think of how you feel post massage! By releasing your knots the tension built up in your connective tissue releases and your body naturally feels more relaxed. It basically like giving yourself a massage – only instead of paying hundreds of pounds in massage costs you can DIY all in the comfort of your own home! Foam rollers are also very reasonable considering the amount of use you’ll get out of it! Not only are you saving money on massages, you’ll be saving yourself from inevitable injury in the long term and allowing your body to reach it’s peak performance.
Where to start?
Grab a foam roller – you can get either a flat surfaced one or one with more bumpy bits on it (trigger point releases). They’re available at most sports shops and online on places like Amazon. If you’re new start slow and use the flatter surfaced roller to ease into it. They come in all sizes, you’ll want to have it on hand in your home so choose one that you can store easily.
You can use the roller for your calves, hamstrings, quads, adductors, butt, back and pretty much most places. Work on each area for at least a minute. Breath into the areas, especially if they feel a little tight. Our natural reaction is to tense up if it feels slightly painful, try and release into that tension. Slow the breath, and breath into the areas of discomfort. If theres a particularly tight spot then stay on that spot for at least 30 seconds to allow connective tissue to release.
If this is your first time foam rolling it can be pretty uncomfortable. Keep with it for a few weeks and the pain will ease. To keep flexible, stress-free, and avoid injuries, you should aim to foam roll on a daily basis for 5 to 20 minutes, but even a few times a week can make a big difference.
What might be a slightly painful and let’s face it a touch boring ritual can actually start to get more comfortable and enjoyable in time. Imagine it as less of a choir a more of a self massage tool as PART of your training rather than a ‘nice bonus’.
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||KEEP ROLLIN’ ROLLIN’ ROLLIN’🎶|| It’s WAY too nice outside to not take it on the roof!☀️ Ok foam rollers…Sure you’ve seen them about, maybe even bought one and rolled around on it for a bit! But do you know WHY you’re foam rolling? . New post up on the 🌈#Tonewhatyouown blog on the benefits of foam rolling, why you need to do it and where to get started called "Making Friends with Your Foam Roller” [link in bio] . Here’s a sneaky snippet of my foam rolling regime. Note ☝🏼This is sped up for time – don't rush your rolling! More info on this on the blog. Here's a summary for you of the benefits (because I’m nice like that!) 😎 . By using your foam roller you’ll…. 💙Be more flexible 💙Have better range of motion in your workouts 💙Decrease your risk of injury 💙Allow better recovery from your training 💙Improve circulation and remove toxins from the body 💙All whilst de-stressing that lovely body of yours (something we aren’t always very good at!) . Happy rollin’ friends! 🚘…Only half sorry for that being in your head for the rest of the day now! 🤙🏼😆 #tonewhatyouown #mobility #flexibility #training 📀"3rd Prototype – Together" 🤸🏼♂️Kit @lululemonuk 🙏🏼✨Beautiful shiny new yoga mat @yogi.bare
On the video you can see I’m foam rolling my calves, hamstrings, my quads (which are notoriously tight from all of my cycling!), my latissimus dorsi and my thoracic region (the mid to upper back). Notice on the lower back I’m not laying my whole lower back on to the roller. I’m actually supporting my weight with my elbow a legs as to not too much pressure on the lower spine. I would then take it into a mobility and stretch regime working into the same areas that I foam rolled. This can be done before or after a workout or just as a stretch regime – more on that in a later post!
Until next time…get rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ babeeeeh!
Sending health & happiness,
Photo: Dominic Marley