Foam Rolling To The Rescue!

April 15, 2014

If you know me, you’ve probably seen me walking in the gym or hitting the tennis court with my yellow roller in hand.  It goes everywhere with me and I’m sure people think I’m crazy.  But, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried the roller.  It’s little, but it has BIG payoffs!  Promise 🙂

You may be asking, what is a foam roller and why would I even use it?  I used to think the same thing when I would see people at the gym rolling a piece of foam over/under/ and all along their body.  But, about 3 years ago I learned the magic behind the roller (thanks to a NASM workshop) and have been using it almost every day since then!

Basically the foam roller is like getting a deep tissue massage.  The technical name for foam rolling is  “Self-Myofascial Release” or SMR.  It feels so good and makes you want to cry all at the same time;)  When you sit/lay/apply the pressure of the foam to your body, it kneads all the knots out of the fascia that runs between your muscles.  When your body is tight and sore, rolling will work out the knots and help you feel stretched out like a new person.  Think of it as a much cheaper deep tissue massage!

There are several different colors of foam and levels of hardness. The white rollers are the most basic level and good for beginners. The white foam has a little more give but will still provide the pressure needed to work out the knots. The colored rollers (blue, red, green, purple) are usually more medium hardness. Black is the next hardness and good for those who have been rolling for several months and no longer feel pressure from the white or colored rollers. Finally, yellow is the hardest foam I have been able to find and my favorite because it digs all the knots out.  I would suggest this level for athletes and those who work out on a regular basis.  You can buy foam rollers at sporting good stores, Target, Walmart or Amazon.com.

The roller can be used all over your body including your legs, back and arms.  I usually start by placing the roller under my calves and rolling slowly up and down my legs (moving about an inch a second).  Moving slow will allow the roller to knead out the knots. If you find a tender spot, stay there and roll the area for 20-30 seconds until you feel the knot release. I roll my lower back and all the way up to my neck to reduce the pressure near my shoulders and lower back. One other key area to roll are you IT Bands because this will help relieve any hip and knee pain! Check out these pictures to help you understand how to use a foam roller.  There are also lots of YouTube videos that will explain how to roll.
The roller has become my best friend because it has reduced a ton of pain in my knees.  I have been rolling my IT bands almost every day for the past 3 years and never have the pain I used to experience during workouts, tennis or other activites. Several of my clients and friends have incredible success stories–they started rolling their backs on a regular basis and it eliminated all their back pain!  Rolling is a fantastic way to warm up before activity, cool down and also on a daily basis to prevent injuries and help aid in recovery.

If I’ve gotten your attention and you really want to learn more, I’ll be teaching a clinic at TrySports in Blakeney next Tuesday, April 22nd at 6:30pm.  Come learn how to use a foam roller and experience all the benefits!  You will feel like a new person 🙂

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