In our post 4 reasons why you should Foam Roll we talked about how foam rolling can help your muscles to heal. This post is about how to actually do it – because foam rolling is a tad more serious than laying on a hard piece of foam and avoiding your workout!
Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is like a deep tissue massage that you can control – you determine exactly what muscle needs work and how much pressure to apply.
To foam roll properly, place the foam roller under the specific muscle/muscle group and apply moderate pressure using your bodyweight. Roll slowly – it’s recommended that you don’t roll over areas faster than 5cm per second.
When you find areas that are painful or the muscle is tight, pause for several seconds, applying pressure, and relax as much as possible. Slowly you should start to feel the muscle releasing. After about 30 seconds the discomfort or pain should be fading.
The goal of foam rolling is to restore healthy muscles – it is not a pain tolerance test! If a muscle or muscle group is too painful to apply direct pressure, move the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area, gradually working to loosen the whole muscle area.
- Never roll a bone or joint.
- Avoid rolling your lower back – To target the muscles in your lower back you should use a tennis ball and apply the same technique as foam rolling.
- Don’t roll your neck – If you’re having problems with your neck it’s important to see an appropriate medical professional.
When you foam roll, it should feel uncomfortable, like when you are holding a stretch. Just make sure you don’t push yourself to the point of excessive soreness, this won’t be good for your muscles or your ability to move the next day.
If you haven’t foam rolled before or don’t do it consistently, you will probably be sore the following day. It will feel like your muscles have been worked – not so much that you can’t sit on the toilet, but like you have released tight muscles.
After your foam rolling session, give it 24-48 hours before focusing on the same area again. This will give your muscles time to recover and rebuild.