Foam rolling: when and where you should use it…

Why and how you should be including foam rolling into your routine!

Foam rolling has had a massive share of attention in the fitness and health industry, and rightly so.

It’s basically an affordable, easy, but not as specific, way to give yourself a deep tissue massage. A form of self-myofascial release, foam rolling has many benefits for the elite athlete, the daily gym goer and the person looking after their general health.

If you’ve ever gone for a deep tissue massage and reaped the benefits, you should compliment it by using one of these!

foam roller

What is foam rolling?

A foam roller is a tool used to promote recovery, mobility and prepare your body for optimal performance.

Previously, sports massage and myofascial release was only ustilised by the elite athletes and top end sports clubs, but foam rolling and similar techniques have allowed this to stretch out to all walk of sports and life.

It is still widely used in elite sports and can be a huge benefit to those looking to perform to their maximum and those just looking to loosen up and feel better.


What to do?

We mentioned the rolling and sustained pressure technique above, both of which are really easy to do.

The rolling technique involves using your body weight to massage out the tight tissue. For example, if you are targeting your quadriceps, you’d have the foam roller under the front of one of your legs, use your arms to stabilise, and roll up and down on the foam roller, using your body weight to apply the pressure.

You’ll often find tight spots, which can be pretty tender when you roll over them.

When you find these spots, stop and apply the sustained pressure technique.

This involves a period of 30 seconds pressure hold on the tight spot. It’s going to be quite uncomfortable, but it will feel better after.

Both techniques can be used on all major muscle groups.

man foam rolling

Where to use it?

A foam roller can be easily used on the major lower leg muscle groups: the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glute muscles, and also the lats.

For the other, smaller, more niggly areas, or for specific trigger points, you may be better off using a tennis ball, golf ball or squash ball.

These can be really useful for targeting specific hip mobility muscles, like the piriformis, the hip flexors and the TFL, while the golf ball can really hit the plantar fascia (the bottom of your foot).

man lifting kettlebell

Why is foam rolling good for me?

Self-myofascial-release can be really good for recovery from big sessions or games, improving flexibility and mobility and reducing soreness. If your aim is to improve flexibility and mobility, you must strengthen the muscles in this added range.

If you increase your range, but don’t strengthen the muscle in this area, you are likely to lose the increased range pretty quickly, or you open yourself up to injury.

As a recovery tool, it can be great as part of an active recovery routine. For example, if you played a physical game of rugby, or you gave your all in a triathlon race, your body has taken a beating! Showing it a bit of love by foam rolling can reduce muscle soreness and make sure you’re ready for the week of training ahead.

Don’t believe all the hype though.

Although many athletes report positive effects some of this may be placebo.

The key is to see what works for you and helps you perform at your best.

When should I do it?

This is a very common question when it comes to foam rolling. The truth is, it depends on your goals. If you are using it to improve range and mobility, adding it to your warm up can be really beneficial, as it will help you move better and then you’ll be able to utilise and keep that extra range by strengthening it in your session. If you’re using it as recovery, it can be done after a heavy training session, or as a session on it’s own. Whenever you do it, just do it.


Scared you’re not doing it right?

The answer here is pretty simple.

There is no perfect way.

Identify your tight muscles, get on the foam roller/tennis ball/hockey ball and roll all angles until you find a tight spot. Hold the pressure on that tight sport for 30s or so and repeat a few times. Do this all over.

You don’t need to know which specific muscle you are rolling, if it’s tight, roll it. While it’s a really beneficial technique, it isn’t quite up to the measure of a deep tissue massage. A deep tissue massage provides specific release for the whole body and can target areas of discomfort.

Combining both deep tissue massage and self myofascial release can improve the length of the benefits and provide a holistic recovery, mobility and general health experience.

If you’re taking your health and recovery seriously and want to book a deep tissue massage, take advantage of our monthly massage prescription and save a minimum of £15!

Book your first massage today and your therapist will be happy to talk you through the benefits and start the process for you.

The Physio Crew,
0333 567 0663

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