Do you feel your body instantly tense when you hear the words foam rolling? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Running, spinning, squats, we can do that. Our ego tells us, “we got this.” Then our eyes catch sight of the foam roller and we decide that it should continue to be a piece of art in the living room for just one more day.
Every week, Giordano works with a wide range of athletes looking to mend the strained relationship to the roller. He coaches a dynamic workout and recovery session that fires up the key muscle groups, brings attention to the stabilization muscles through core engagement, and empowers his clients by teaching them basic anatomy.
Foam rolling is a form of self-massage (in medical terms, it’s self-myofascial release). It’s used to increase flexibility and release knots, trigger points and adhesions. By massaging an area with a foam roller, you may be able to improve performance and flexibility, increase circulation, relieve muscle tension, and reduce stress. More recently, foam rolling has been used as a warm-up tool that increases blood flow to tissues without affecting strength.
Let's be real though, most of us bought the roller because we know it is good for us, but now what? How do we save the foam roller from becoming our arch nemesis or another seat for guests? Read on as Giordano gets us started with five moves to try at home, and debunks the top three foam-rolling myths. Ready or not, let’s roll.
Giordano’s three-minute pre-sweat warm up:
Move 1: The thoracic spine (30 seconds)
Move 2: Get into the gluteus and pirformis (30 seconds per side)
Move 3: This move shows some attention to the TFL (tensor fasciae latae, aka that awkward spot that probably takes the blame for hip pain) is the small muscle that lies in front of the hip joint and the gluteus medius (30 seconds per side)
The TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae, aka that awkward spot that probably takes the blame for hip pain) is the small muscle that lies in front of the hip joint and our gluteus medius is the muscle we are going to show some attention to.
Move 4: The front leg game, time to roll out the quadriceps (30 seconds each side)
Tip: To increase the intensity, cross one leg over the other and shift weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.
Move 5: The back leg game, time for the calves (30 seconds each side)
Tip: In order to increase the intensity of the rolling, cross one leg over the other and shift the weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.
Myth One: Foam rolling is for after you get sweaty.
How many times have we looked at the foam roller as a piece of the kit that aids in our recovery? What if foam rolling before getting sweaty is where we’ll see major benefits?
New research has shown that myofascial release (or self-massage) with a foam roller can improve range of motion without having a negative effect on strength. As a warm-up tool, the foam roller can cause an increase in heart rate and will cause an increase in blood flow to the area warming up the muscle.
Myth Two: Stick with the pain, it’ll be over soon.
When you’re on the roller and feel that spot that makes your face scrunch—you know the one—this is called an adhesion or trigger point (what most people call a knot). Are you supposed to grit and deal with the pain? To foam roll properly, Giordano says to apply mild to moderate pressure to the specific area you want to focus on. If the direct pressure is too much or too painful, you should shift the roller to decrease the amount of pressure. Once you get the correct amount of pressure (there shouldn’t be pain but it shouldn’t feel like a stroll in the park), slowly roll your body over the desired area.
To foam roll properly, Giordano says apply mild to moderate pressure to the specific area you want to focus on. If the direct pressure is too much or too painful, you should shift the roller to decrease the amount of pressure. Once you get the correct amount of pressure (there shouldn’t be pain but it shouldn’t feel like a stroll in the park) slowly roll your body over the desired area.
Myth three: Roll up and down.
The foam roller might be round and it definitely includes the word roll in it, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily have to roll up and down. What about some side to side action?
Once you get the correct amount of pressure (it should feel slightly uncomfortable but remember, no pain), slowly begin to move the roller on the area. Do not roll more than a few inches per second. When you feel the restriction (or the knot) press pause and roll up an inch, down an inch and then side to side. Most knots will start to release after rolling on the area for about 30 seconds.