July 13, 2021 by Megan Dahlman
The What, When, Why, and How of Foam Rolling
What exactly is foam rolling?
- Foam rolling is a type of self myo-fascial release (myo=muscle, fascial=fascia/connective tissues
- Similar to a massage
- Helps encourage the muscle fibers and the fascial fibers to move in alignment
Why should somebody foam roll? What does it do and how does it help?
- Better mobility & blood flow
- Possibly stimulates recovery (jury’s still out on this)
- Decreases pain (short term: pain receptors in sore tissues; long term: improved tissue mobility and range of motion)
Does foam rolling hurt?
- At first, yes.
- It gets better over time as your fascia releases and your tissues become more compliant.
- Occasionally, you’ll have extra sore spots from a workout.
When are the best times to foam roll?
- Before you begin your workout (right before the warm-up)
- Immediately following your workout (right before stretching)
- Anytime you feel stiff or sore
- When you need to move (if I’m sleepy or lacking energy, hopping on my foam roller for a bit followed with some stretches is an excellent pick-me-up)
How do you foam roll?
- Free foam rolling video (vigeofit.com/111)
- Be sure to relax and breathe, don’t hold tension
- Start with a few long strokes on a specific muscle group and build up to 10-15 swipes per area
- Once you feel more balanced and comfortable, practice leaning forward and back and getting a wider area of the muscle
- If you have a spot that feels particularly sore or you’ve got a knot, lay on it for a few deep breaths, trying to get your muscles to release and go limp, and then start with small motions, gradually increasing to larger motions over the whole area.
Can someone do it too much?
- It depends. There are certain spots that aren’t necessarily made to be loose and “mushy”, like your spine and joints. I wouldn’t aggressively roll those areas.
- But if it’s the belly of a muscle, it’s really hard to overdo it
Which foam rollers are the best?
The Do's and Dont's of Foam Rolling
- Don’t avoid it or skip it if it’s awkward or uncomfortable
- Don’t give up if it hurts at first
- Don’t be too aggressive, especially on joints and your spine
- Don’t strain your neck and shoulders
- Do prop yourself up on elbows, not hands
- Do incorporate it as much as possible
- Do it to keep your body moving and feeling really good
- Do it as a great form of extra movement
- Do fall in love with it
I know a lot of people can feel skeptical at first, especially because when you first try foam rolling it usually hurts and it’s super awkward. I remember Heather, one of the moms I coach in my programs, tried foam rolling for the first time a year ago. Her immediate reaction was that it was a horrible form of torture and it couldn’t possibly be doing anything good.
Fast forward about 6 months, and she can’t imagine going a day without it. It helps her body feel THAT good.
So, the big idea here is that…
- Foam rolling is awesome
- It might hurt at first, but if you can stick with it you’ll feel amazing
- It should definitely be part of your regular routine
Your action steps now are to:
- Go get yourself a foam roller if you don’t have one yet
- Go look up my free foam rolling video and follow along with me as I teach you how to do it
- Incorporate it into your life as much as you can!
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