Foam Rolling: Who, What, Where, When, Why?

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 12:19 am by

Foam rolling…it hurts so good.

Have you ever heard of foam rolling? Have you ever wondered what the heck a foam roller is and how you’re supposed to use one? A lot of people ignore rollers when they see them at the gym because they don’t know how to use them. Foam rolling is amazing, and I don’t want any of you to miss out on any of its benefits just because you don’t know about it.

Foam Rolling

I’m gonna start off by explaining what it is. Then at the end of the post, I’m going to share some short (like 15 seconds short) video clips giving you a demo on foam rolling. Ready? GO!

Who?

Anyone who has tight muscles or trigger points. Which is basically everyone. Trigger points are made up of knots that form in your muscles.

What?

It’s a type of stretching.

The technical term for foam rolling is “self-myofascial release.”  It’s basically giving yourself a massage to release muscle tension. When foam rolling, you should put as much pressure as you can on the muscle that you’re focusing on using your own bodyweight. It is going to hurt. The pain will lessen after a few seconds of rolling.

When rolling a muscle, you should roll slowly and find the trigger point (aka the part that makes you want to cry when you roll over it) and hold the foam roller there, putting pressure on that area for at least 30 seconds. So you’re not constantly rolling with the foam roller…you’re rolling slowly to find those really sore spots and holding the foam roller on those spots while applying as much pressure as you can handle. Don’t roll your bones or joints.

Foam rolling is good for corrective flexibility, active flexibility, and functional flexibility. It helps restore the body back to tip top shape so you can train your best come your next workout. When you’re foam rolling, don’t be afraid to explore. Tilt your body in different directions, focusing on different angles of the muscles.

Where?

Don’t discriminate! I try to focus on certain muscle groups every day. So for example, I’ll foam roll my lower body Monday and my upper body Tuesday, etc. The videos below will give you some good places to start. Any muscle that is super sore is also a good indicator that you should foam roll that area. Some of my favorite muscle groups to foam roll: IT band, glutes, lats, calves, back, quads, and adductors.

When?

Foam rolling can really be done whenever. It’s good to do it before a workout (before you even warm up) because breaking up the knots can help the muscles to lengthen during stretching. Foam rolling is also good to do during your cool-down (aka post-workout). Wait a day or two before foam rolling the same muscle group.

Why?

So our bodies can preform at their best and UM HELLO so you’re not freaking sore all the time from working out.

We want our bodies to work as best as they can right? Foam rolling is a way that you can take care of your muscles. It helps keep your muscles flexible and able to do what they are meant to do. It should feel uncomfortable, but not unbearable. And it should feel better once you’re finished. I suggest drinking lots of water before and after rolling, too.

Think of this…people know that getting a deep tissue massage might hurt. But once it’s over, the muscles are loose and feel great. Foam rolling gives YOU control of the recovery process, because you’re the one applying the pressure.

Here are a few video clips to give you a better idea of how it works:

Quads: I do one quad at a time to make the pressure a little more intense. I also divide each quad into a lower and an upper section (so mid quad to the top of the quad and mid quad to the bottom of the quad). Roll each section (4 total) for about 2 minutes. Remember to apply as much pressure as you can handle and to hold the pressure on the sore areas for at least 30 seconds.

Calves: Make sure to roll from different angles to get all parts of the calves. For a more intense pressure, cross the leg not being rolled over the leg being rolled, like I do in the last part of the clip. Roll each calf for about 2 minutes…remember to hold the pressure for 30 seconds on the most sore areas.

IT Band: This is known to be one of the most painful areas to roll so take it slow. I usually roll mid IT Band to the top of my knee and then mid IT Band to the top of my outer hip. About 2 minutes per side. Again, hold the roller on the sore areas for at least 30 seconds.

Adductors: I also do each adductor in 2 sections. From the middle of my adductor to the top of my knee and then the middle of my adductor to my groin area. This can be a tricky area to roll, but it’s important not to skip! Roll each adductor for about 2 minutes, holding pressure on the most sore areas for at least 30 seconds.

Glutes: Make sure to focus on one side at a time. Again, try different angles and pressures in order to ensure that you’re rolling the entire muscle. Cross the leg of the side that you’re not rolling onto the leg of the side that you are rolling to intensify pressure. Same thing…2 minutes per side.

Lower back: I focus on rolling each side of my lower back individually. 2 minutes per side…holding pressure on the sore spots.

Upper back: You can use the foam roller vertically or horizontally when rolling your upper back. I usually do each way for a minute. Be careful around your neck…I don’t ever roll my neck. I usually put my hands behind my head to support my neck while I’m rolling my upper back.

Happy foam rolling (:

xo, Jessica

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5 Comments

  • I was just reading up on foam rolling last night after seeing it on another blog. Your info answered SO many of my questions. Thank you! The videos are super helpful, too.

  • Emmy June says:

    Jess,
    I am just loving your Glisten blog. You think of the best topics to cover! I was taught foam rolling through Crossfit, but had never heard of it prior. Now I’m such a believer…I bought one for my house and I have “The Stick” too which I love. IT band is always killer….haha. Keep up the awesome work!

    Cheers,
    Em

    • Glisten Fit says:

      Aw thanks girl 🙂 I’m having fun putting the posts together! I try to think of questions that I’ve had in the past and do posts on those…I always hope at least one other person has been wondering the same thing, haha! Your support means so much to me, Em!
      xo

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