How do you do it?
Foam rolling can be performed on many muscle groups. I usually roll out my quadriceps, glutes, iliotibial (IT) band, hamstrings, and gastrocnemius, but you can also apply pressure to other areas such as the lats, adductors, hip flexors, trapezius and rhomboids. If I were foam rolling my calves for example, I’d start with the roller near the back of my knee, then move myself backward slowly using my hands so that the foam roller moves further down my calf. I usually do them one at a time, stacking one on top of the other to apply more pressure (similar to the photo below). As soon as I find a sore spot (or a trigger point), I roll back and forth a few times for about 30 seconds until the ‘knot’ is gone.
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Need a demonstration? This source has some videos that will show you how to foam roll various muscle groups, and my lovely blogger friend Susan recently posted a video about foam rolling – check it out!!
How should it be incorporated into workouts?
There’s a bit of debate about this, but from the various sources I’ve read, it can be done before or after a workout. The benefit of doing it before is that muscle density decreases a bit, and helps you to warm up more efficiently. The benefit of rolling after is that the pressure relieves stress built while you were working out. Rolling after a cardio workout makes a lot of sense to me, and I usually do it right after I finish running when my muscles are still warm. However, foam rolling at any time of day is a bit like stretching – it’s not going to do any harm. I particularly love to do it after work, when I take off my heels… it feels wonderful in a hurts-so-good kind of way. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t hurt, because it does!
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It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have do all your rolling after cardio exercise – it can also be done after weight workouts to help prevent muscle soreness the next day.
A few final pieces of advice:
So there you have it! Now it’s your turn. Tell me…