Foam Rolling (Part 2)
Updated: Oct 15, 2018
Is there a technique to foam rolling?
Slow and controlled. Are there different techniques and ways to roll? Yeah, there are, but just roll around, relax (big inhale and exhale), search for tight spots and let the roller ease deep into your muscles.
Relaxing whilst rolling is important as you’re aiming to relax deep into the layers of your muscles, tensing up won’t help.*
*Tensing up can help if you are using a technique known as 'contract and relax', this is a more advanced technique used to get deeper into the muscle tissues. To do this, with the roller on the tight area, tense as hard as you can for 5 seconds and then allow the roller to sink completely in to the muscle.
Found a tight area?
Roll on it slowly, stay there for a while and allow the tightness to ease off. Then add more pressure or change the angle/motion and repeat.
Shift more of your bodyweight onto the area to increase the pressure. Use a larger roller (foam roller) for larger areas and a smaller roller (ball) for targeting a specific spot, or knot.
How long is it acceptable for one to roll for?
Spend at least two minutes on an area. Effective rolling requires concentration and time.
If you roll haphazardly for 30 seconds, you won’t change anything. You should roll an area until you stop feeling any change occurring, then increase the pressure or angle to move on to the next 'layer'.
If you’ve progressively increased the pressure and reach a point where you feel the same discomfort with the same pressure, then you’ve probably done all you can for now and should return for a rematch tomorrow. The more scrunched up your tissues are, the longer it’ll take to unscrunch them.
I’m ready to (rock and) roll, when’s a good time to foam roll?
Any time, at home…
Rolling requires 5 minutes. Watching TV? Listening to the radio? Hop on the roller.
As rolling relaxes muscle tissues it can be particularly effective to do some rolling before you go to sleep. That way you’ll be in a relaxed state of dreaminess for 8 hours before you wake up, yawn, stretch and unglue.
Five minutes of rolling at home can easily become a part of a daily routine.
Should I roll before a training session as part of my warm up?
Foam rolling essentially relaxes your muscle tissue. During a training session you want your muscles to be fired up and ready to go, not relaxed and sleepy. So, rolling before a session and/or during the warm up is not ideal for most. For some, who are particularly tight in certain areas it can be useful to loosen these areas off before warming them up and preparing for the exercises.
Posture... Don't undo your good unglue...
Rolling is an excellent tool for improving posture. Rolling will break up all the garbage and unknot the tissues that have set themselves in a hunched/twisted/bent out of shape position. This (amicable) break up gives you a chance to reset your tissues in a good position.
How do you reset in a good position?
By adopting good shapes and positions regularly, and avoiding bad positions. In other words, sit up straight, stand up tall, eat your greens and pay attention to your teacher.
Note that spending time rolling the muscles of your upper back for fifteen minutes every day will be rendered pointless if you sit back down and hunch over a computer screen for 8 hours.
That’s like hand drying your clothes then storing them in a bath. Appreciate the chance you’ve given yourself and think about the positions you’re adopting. Otherwise the knots that you’ve just rolled out will be back by close of play.
When rolling your upper back either give yourself a tight hug or place your hands over your head. This will increase the effectiveness and allow you to discover more tight areas.
When you find a tight spot, make sure you are rolling on that area and not over it; there is a difference. On the area will create change, rolling over an area will likely just repeatedly move the skin over it and won't be effective in breaking up the knot.
Gets rid of “knots”, unglues your muscles, frees up range of motion, relieves pain in areas other than those you are rolling and allows your muscles to work as they are supposed to.
Spend 2-5 minutes on an area.
Relax your muscles and let the roller sink deep into them.
Try to make rolling a part of your daily routine.