An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Hi Friends!

Today I have another fun guest post for you. Last month, when I got my shin splint, one of the things I finally started doing was foam rolling. I’d read about it on several blogs and know a lot of people that swear by it so I decided to give it a try. I fell in love, but still don’t consider myself an expert since I’m fairly new to it. So I asked one of my fellow Fitfluential Ambassadors to help me introduce foam rolling to you, in case you want to try it as well!

 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Heather is an RD specializing in sports nutrition, a new mom, totally adorable and was kind enough to tackle this post for me. She blogs over at With a Side of Sneakers and Tiny Sneakers so be sure to go check out her blog! Take it away, Heather!

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 The Whys & Hows of Foam Rolling

The first time I heard the words “foam rolling” I thought it was some type of wimpy DIY craft project. But when I hurt my knee during a race {iliotibial band friction syndrome} I heard those words over and over again: foam roll, foam roll, foam roll. I figured I better look into this foam rolling thing, whatever it was.
I started foam rolling as part of my physical therapy rehab and it’s been an integral component of my workout routine ever since. It’s been a key player in my recovery and keeping my knee from hurting and getting injured again.

So what IS foam rolling and why should you be doing it?

Foam rolling is a type of soft tissue therapy known as self-myofascial release. Essentially it’s a type of massage you can do on your own- no expensive office visits or hassle of scheduling therapy appointments. Fascia is a fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles, among other things. Inflammation and irritation can cause the tissue to thicken, which causes pain, decreased range of motion, poor blood flow, and more inflammation and irritation. Myofascial release helps ease the tension and associated pain of these “trigger points” or “muscle knots”.

A foam roller is exactly what it sounds like: a dense roll of foam {usually about 6” in diameter} you use to help relieve the kinks and help heal and prevent injuries. It’s not just for athletes- anyone can benefit from foam rolling.

The most basic form of foam rolling is to place the foam roller on the ground and roll your body over it, spending more time on areas that cause pain or sensitivity. You can target any body part you can reach. With the help of the foam roller, that’s just about everything. Great areas to focus on include the IT band, quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, shins, and back.

If you’re working through an injury, foam rolling the afflicted area a couple times of day will provide the most benefits, otherwise a couple times of week is a great habit to engage in for maintenance and prevention of injury.

Here are a couple of my favorite ways to foam roll:
Note: I should probably enter that standard disclaimer that lets you know I’m not a doctor or therapist, just an avid foam roller user.

IT Band

1 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Quads

21 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Hamstrings

3 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Glutes

4 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Calves

5 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Shins

6 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Hip Flexors

7 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Back

8 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

Tips:

  • Increase or decrease pressure by adjusting how much weight you put on the foam roller.
  • Go slowly and gently, lingering longer over areas that feel tight or sensitive.
  • If you find knots or trigger points, it probably won’t feel too good to roll over them. Actually, it might downright hurt. But use good judgement- it should be a “therapeutic” hurt and not a “oh my gosh I’m going to break something” hurt.

For those trying to get a more intense massage session, try a foam roller with a built on grid or a stick-like tool to achieve deeper relief. Small stick tools are also a great option for travelling.

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Your turn! Tell us :

Have you tried foam rolling?

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–

PS…I have managed to sneak in a few workouts this past week. Here’s a quick look:

Two mile run, 1.25 mile walk:

IMG 7988 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

A weekend hike with the dogs and a little stair running:

IMG 8113 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

A Labor Day hike on one of our favorite dog-friendly trails:

IMG 8169 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

A much-needed, late night 3-miler that felt EASY!

IMG 8211 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

A long with the dogs, a few planks and a pumpkin treat for the boys.

photo 300 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

10 min warmup, 20 min sprints = sweaty mess

IMG 8248 An Introduction to Foam Rolling

The end!