Foam rolling (self-myofascial release) is a simple form of self-massage. Using a cylindrical piece of foam and your body weight you are able to apply pressure to your sore muscles to release tension and soreness. In the past, only professional athletes could utilize the benefits of massage with the help of a masseur but now, with the invention of the foam roller, everyone can take advantage!
So what are the benefits of foam rolling? This type of massage is commonly used as a recovery tool after completing tough physical activity. It can correct muscular imbalances, relieve joint stress and improve your range of motion. Several scientific studies have concluded that this type of self-massage can also reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness (or DOMS) and is an effective method in reducing decrements in sprint time, power and dynamic strength/endurance in athletes. Foam rolling has also shown to be an effective method before physical activity by greatly increasing you range of motion by up to 10% when done 2 minutes before exercise.
Foam rolling can be hard work and sometimes quite painful, like stretching, but the benefits you gain are fantastic. However, you should always consult a physician or your trainer before doing foam rolling.
Here are a few simple foam rolling exercises you can do at home or at the gym:
Starting position: Lay face down of the floor and support your weight using your hands or forearms. Place the foam roller under one leg on the quadricep and keep the foot off the ground.
Shift as much weight as possible over your leg and roll over the foam from above the knee to below the hip in long, slow motions to massage the muscle. Repeat on the other side.
Starting position: in a seated position, place the foam roller under your lower back and cross your arms in front of you.
As you raise your hips, lean back on the foam roller keeping your weight on your lower back. Now lean slightly to one side so that the tension is on the muscles next to the spine not on top. Roll over your lower back in long, slow and controlled movements. Repeat on the other side.
Starting position: In a seated position, extend your legs and sit over the foam roller while it’s positioned on the back of your upper leg. Place your hands to the side or behind you to support your weight.
Use your hands to lift yourself off the floor and put the weight off your leg onto the foam roller.
Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee in a long, slow and controlled motion. Repeat on the other leg.
If the muscle you want to target is in a tricky position (e.g. your neck), you can also use a lacrosse or tennis ball to massage that area!