Foam Rolling: The Single Best Thing You’re Probably Not Doing

 

In fitness, lots of products and programs have come and gone over the years with very few standing the test of time. But, there is something that I think will be with us for good – foam rolling. Let me introduce you to the single best piece of fitness equipment I’ve found in my 20+ years as a trainer:

Roller

That is a foam roller, and yes, it’s really that good. For those of you who have used one, you know how fantastic it is. For those of you who have no idea what it is or what it’s for, here’s the scoop…

Foam rollers are massage tools used to improve and maintain muscle tissue quality and help establish muscle balance. They are great for alleviating tender trigger points, releasing tight or bound up muscles, and aiding in improving flexibility. All that said, the bottom line is that using them helps you feel better and move better. It’s the next best thing to having a massage therapist at your beck and call.

So why is muscle tissue quality a big deal?  Good muscle tissue quality and balance is a key to feeling better and getting the most out of your workouts. Muscle imbalances restrict good movement, which generally leads to bad form and even pain with exercise. Using a roller on problem muscles before working out helps them work and feel better. You’ll feel more free and loose in your movement and get better results from exercise.

Need proof….?  Try these, especially if you’re stuck at a desk all day long and have tight hips:

TFL

Piriformis

You may have to roll around to find a spot, but I’ll bet there’s something there that will make you jump. The first time I used the roller, I was shocked by how much “stuff” I had going on and had no idea it was there. I’ve found much the same thing with almost everyone I’ve trained.

The general rule for foam rolling is to look for a tender spot in a muscle, but not so uncomfortable that you cringe and hold your breath.  Once you find a tolerable spot, stay on it for about 30 seconds or until you feel the discomfort subside. You can also try slowly rolling over the spot 10-15 times if you feel that works better. The tenderness may not go away completely, but it should be reduced substantially. Repeating this over days and weeks will significantly improve your muscles and your progress.

As with everything exercise related, check with your physician to make sure it’s safe for you to foam roll. You should NOT foam roll if you have any of the following conditions:

Contraindication

(from NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist text)

Once you’re cleared, do yourself a favor; get a foam roller and learn how to use it! As always, please post a comment if you have a question or to let me know how it went.

Learn something new!

 

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

2 Responses to “Foam Rolling: The Single Best Thing You’re Probably Not Doing”

  1. […] Use the foam roller – An easy way to keep your IT band flexible is with weekly use of the foam roller.  Put the roller on the ground, and lower yourself onto the side of your hip.  Roll up and down […]

  2. […] to increase distance.  Start adding upper back stretches into your daily routine at the gym.  Work on the foam roller in order to get your upper back moving.  Focus on gaining rotation as well.  Add specific hip […]