Updated: Sep 26, 2020
What is Foam Rolling?
In the most simplistic format, foam rolling is a form of self-massage!
During your massage treatment from a practitioner or therapist they will more than likely perform myofascial release techniques to help aid the massage. Myofascial release techniques are used to help reduce tension and tightness through a specific pinpoint area of pain and helping to lengthen muscle fibres, increasing flexibility and improving circulation to an area.
Therefore, after a treatment you might wonder how you can continue this at home to continue the benefits before your next treatment. That’s when self-massage/ foam rolling coms into place. Foam rolling is a good way of self-myofascial release or alternatively known as self-massage.
So How Does Foam Rolling Work?
A foam roller allows you to self-treat tight painful tense muscles by placing the foam roller under area you would like to massage. Once the foam roller is under the area you would like to massage you apply your own pressure using your bodyweight and slowly rolling the foam roller back and forwards over the area. Ensure the pressure is enough to feel the benefits of the massage, that you can feel yourself rolling over the tension spot, but you do not want to cause yourself pain.
When you are foam rolling a certain muscle group you might find you hit one spot that is very tender. If you find a tender spot when foam rolling it is good to hold the pressure on the area for 10-20seconds. Once you have held for 10-20seconds slowly continue to roll the foam roller up and down the muscle group, repeating the 10-20seconds hold on tender spots if required.
You can foam roll on the majority of your muscle groups, here are an example of the common areas to foam roll:
Sitting on the floor with your hands supporting the body and the foam roller under your leg just behind the knee. Gently apply pressure and roll forward and backwards along the calf muscle using your arms to aid you. It is best to do one leg at a time.
Sitting on the floor with your hands supporting the body and the foam roller under your leg just below the gluteal. Gently apply pressure and roll forward and backwards along the hamstring muscle.
Sitting on the foam roller, cross the leg of the gluteal you would like to work on, over the opposite leg just above the knee. Take the pressure on your arms and roll in small movements forward and backwards.
Laying face down and place the roller under your hips on the quadricep (thigh) muscles. Lean into the foam roller with your body weight and roll forwards and backwards using your arms to aid you. It is best to do one leg at a time.
Sitting on the floor, place the foam roller just at the base of your back and gently lean backwards. Using your legs to support the movement slowly roll forwards and backwards allowing the roller to go up the back as far as necessary ensuring you have good core control throughout.
Benefits of Foam Rolling:
Relieve muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation
Increase muscle flexibility, allowing increase through joint range of motion
Incorporating into a warm-up to ensure muscle are fully mobile before workout/sporting activity
Incorporating into a cool down to help recovery post workout/sporting activity, alleviating ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS).
May promote & improve localised blood flow to the involved tissue(s).