Are foam rollers just another fad?
In my opinion, foam rollers aren’t going anywhere. They are such a useful tool for our body. Consider foam rolling a self-massage. You probably can’t spend money on a massage everyday, but you can definitely hop on a foam roller everyday for at least five minutes!
Foam rollers are good for you because they increase your mobility and flexibility. When we foam roll, we aren’t just stretching our muscles. We are getting deeper into the myofascial tissues that, when stuck, can cause stiffness, soreness, or improper movement patterns that might lead to injury.
How to Use a Foam Roller
To use a foam roller, you basically just place a body part on top of the foam roller and start rolling! It’s important to roll every part of a muscle, both longways and sideways. When you find a “sticky” or sensitive part of your muscle, that’s a good sign to pause and spend some additional time bearing weight in that area. This might be where you have a knot in your muscle that needs released. I made this Foam Roller 101 tutorial that further demonstrates the “how.”
6 movements to Focus On
In my tutorial video, I demonstrate 6 movements on the foam roller. These movements focus on the following areas:
- Thoracic Spine (upper back)
- Latissimus Dorsi (mid-back/side of body)
While these are commonly tight areas, this list is certainly not exhaustive. You can foam roll almost any muscle in your body. You just want to avoid directly rolling out joints, tendons and ligaments (i.e. IT band and back of the knee). If you have a “tight IT band”, you’ll want to roll your glutes, hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. Rolling the IT band directly will only inflame the tendon more. It’s usually not your IT band that’s bothersome, it’s a tight muscle somewhere else.
What Foam Roller to Buy
There are so many options out there, it can be quite overwhelming. I’ve bought some cheaper foam rollers that ended up warping because they weren’t dense enough. Make sure you get a firm, smooth foam roller that is 36″. This is the one I used in my video and I highly recommend. Unless you are an elite athlete, the foam rollers with extra bumps or spikes are most likely too intense and unnecessary. If you are looking to more intensely isolate part of your muscle (i.e. shoulders, upper back), I recommend the TriggerPoint foam massage ball.
Well, those are my foam rolling tips! I hope you learned something. Feel free to ask other questions in the comments. Happy rolling!
With good intentions,