My friend the foam roller

If you are newer to fitness and just learning about running pay attention to this post…I am about to introduce you to your best friend/favorite torture device the foam roller.  This is one of those pieces of equipment that I love to hate.  I learned about the concept of self myofascial release from a trainer friend of mine about a year ago.  She explained how the use of it had helped her a great deal with muscle spasms and was a big part of treating her sciatica.  At that point I had never experienced any problems really so I found it interesting, but didn’t really go further with it. 

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My travel roller, love this thing!

Then I started working on getting my CPT and I really learned about it…I started foam rolling before runs, after runs, and other workouts.  I realized that I really dodged a bullet by not having any problems that are common to runners like IT and TFL issues.  In fact it hit me that I really hadn’t even stretched for ANY of my half marathon training…yikes!  As I started foam rolling at the gym and at home I felt the difference immediately in my hips, calves, and lower back.  Foam rolling and self myofascial release allows you to apply gentle (HA!) force to an adhesion or knot that may have developed as a result of stress on your muscles.  Doing this type of stretching stimulates the Golgi tendon organ and creates a reaction that leads to a release of the tension in the underlying musculature aka breaks up the knots.  I laugh out loud at the gentle part because there are days that it feels anything but gentle while applying the pressure.  I can’t deny that it works and it works well; the days I have to rush back and end up busy so I don’t roll I can tell.  Especially as I start doing these longer runs during the week. 

The key is to find the sensitive spot and to hold for at least 30 seconds, even if it hurts a bit hold on as long as you can. You can add pressure to it by placing one leg over another or finding another way to add body weight to the equation.  The benefits of doing it are:

  • it helps to reduce the knots
  • improves flexibility and joint range of motion
  • reduces muscle soreness
  • helps increase blood flow starting the repair process for the muscles
  • reduces the chances of injury

You will find that most foam rollers start at around $20 and go up from there.  There are some other options besides just a foam roller that you can use including some things you might have around the house: golf balls, tennis balls, soft balls, etc.  There are some rollers that come with bumps and ridges to add to the pressure and you can just get some handheld ones and ones that are more like sticks.  A foam roller and a golf ball for my feet are some of my must haves for my training and in future posts I will share a few more with you. Do warn your loved ones if you are going to use it so they don’t panic if they hear you scream…it’s a good pain really it is. LOL!

Let me ask, have you tried foam rolling or self myofascial release?  What did you think?

 

 

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sarahkerner
    Feb 02, 2014 @ 14:32:38

    I love the foam roller! I need to use it more. Is there a good way to release the hip flexors with the foam roller?

    Reply

    • Formerlyfatgirlrunning
      Feb 02, 2014 @ 15:17:39

      Absolutely using a foam roller for your hip flexors is great. Try this link (hopefully this works) for a great instructional video on it. “http://www.howcast.com/videos/513819-How-to-Foam-Roll-Your-Hip-Flexors-Foam-Rolling”>

      Reply

  2. Suzanne Digre (@WorkoutNirvana)
    Feb 02, 2014 @ 18:36:46

    I’m also a major foam rolling fan. I’ve graduated to rollers with hard spikes. As you gain a tolerance and your kinks get worked out, it takes firmer surfaces to get the best results. I could probably use a black Rumble Roller just fine now :).

    Reply

    • Formerlyfatgirlrunning
      Feb 02, 2014 @ 19:18:26

      I can tell I am going to need to get something firmer soon. So far I love a golf ball for my feet, I started to feel a funky pain a week or two ago, used the golf ball for a bit, no more problems. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Pamela Hernandez (@ThriveFit)
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 04:31:49

    Love the roller. At the end of training sessions I give my clients time to roll before we stretch.

    Reply

  4. Shira
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 06:59:00

    Your portable roller is so cute and friendly in its yellow color! We have one at home – the standard black ones that first feel like a mack truck is running over your tight muscles – and I definitely see the benefit of using these at the gym following a hard workout. Thanks for sharing this scoop!

    Reply

  5. Toni Church (@tonee78)
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 10:32:36

    I love my foam roller! It is such a great tool for any runner.

    Reply

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