Have you ever exercised and become fairly sore? Doesn’t that make simple things such as, sitting on the toilet or even just walking more difficult? Then, I don’t know about you, but I know that I become frustrated because I cannot exercise the day I am so sore and I’m not too happy about walking like a crazy lady either! Well, I am here to help! I’ve had several of you request I post something about foam rolling, and a link to get one, so that you can begin rolling away your woes.
Yes, I do utilize foam rolling. Not everyday. The following information is not to be utilized as medical advice, really just sharing my own knowledge and usage!
First and foremost: how do you know if you are a good candidate for foam rolling? Well, the best advice I can give you there is, “If you can get into and out of the floor, you will be fine.” Also, take note that you need to be able to tolerate a fair amount of pressure into a sore area. I am not one to say you cannot do something just because of age or an injury. If you are comfortable getting into the floor and rolling around on a roll you will be just fine. If you have no tolerance for discomfort, it may not be your favorite, but give it a shot.
Secondly, how often should I foam roll? This is a trickier question. We are unsure in the evidence on how often to actually utilize foam rolling. The reason it seems to be less clear is because the studies show the short term effects (or the immediate soreness relief) instead of looking into long term. I will give you what I do. I utilize my foam roller 3 days per week and I do not do back to back days. Sometimes the pressure we use on the foam roller can cause bruising or some discomfort and if we do back to back days then it will actually cause more soreness than make it better.
How long should I foam roll? I typically do bouts of 2 minutes, and there is some evidence to support that! 2 minutes is a good amount of time to allow muscle relief, but at the same time it gives you the ability to really find the relief. I typically roll until I feel a release, or no longer have pain where I am on the foam roller.
What is the proper technique to foam roll? You will start at one end of the muscle you are trying to target and roll to the other end. If you are rolling on your leg you will use your arms for support and to move your body through the rolling. Once you find a spot of soreness don’t just skip it, either stay for a few seconds then move on or roll that smaller area.
Lastly, I get asked, How do I choose which foam roller to buy? It’s easy to get stressed out when you are looking at brands, at the different levels of firmness. But, here is a rule of thumb: if you are new to foam roller, get a softer one that does not have all kinds of things going on around it. Get one of the soft ones, start there, and then you can progress your way up. Now, you also can get a firm one but use more of your upper body strength to decrease the firmness. There are many different densities of rollers and pay attention to the color because sometimes the brand uses colors to tell you the density. There are affiliate links below to help you get an idea of what I’m talking about. As far as size, you probably want to just get the longer/large one because you can utilize this on any body part. The smaller ones are to be more specific, so if you are a runner and you KNOW your adductor (groin) region is always tight, a half length may be best for you. I also will utilize the smaller one for joint mobility, not so much the foam rolling muscle techniques.
Well, there you have it! Foam rolling 101. I know it is quite stressful when you decide to roll and then you find so many products and opinions. The best thing to go by is your comfort level. Buy the soft, smooth, large one if you are new and wanting to try it out. After you get used to it and find tons of technqiues, then you can progress yourself up to using the ones with different texture and with more firmness. I still utilize my soft roller for the times I am VERY sore because I cannot tolerate the pressure and then use my textured/firm one when I am doing consistent workouts and need a quick 2 minute relief.
You will find affiliate links for all the different types I have below. Feel free to ask me questions about them. Also, I’ve listed a few pictures and techniques of general muscle groups to try out once you get your new friend!
Soft Foam Roller
Extra Firm Foam Roller
Large Foam Roller Set
Small Foam Roller Set
Some to try!! (I found images from Medbridge, which I am a member of!)
For the ITB! Or the side of your upper leg!
For the front of your thighs, those pesky quads!
For your calf muscles!
For the back of your thighs!
For your butt! (my personal favorite)
Or try this one to add some relief from sitting too much!