The Best Way to Use Foam Rollers for Runners
Foam rolling has many benefits for runners. It is another option to help increase the level of stretching. After a run, it is always essential to do some static stretches, but adding some foam rolling prior to some static stretching can be even more efficient. Foam rolling doesn’t only stretch the muscles, it increases the mobility of the fascia. Fascia is a fibrous layer of connective tissue that surrounds all the muscles in our body. Without proper mobility and release, the fascia becomes cross linked and sticks to muscles and nerves, blocking the normal range of motion and causing pain. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, will release some trigger points, and is also a nice self-massage.
Muscles to Foam Roll
- Hip Flexors
- IT Band
- Upper Back, Lower Back (gently)
Benefits of Foam Rolling Before Static Stretching
- Increases hip mobility
- Increases blood flow
- Increases intramuscular temperature
- Increases muscle flexibility
- Improves fascia quality
- Improves the range of motion to support proper running form
Foam Rolling Tips
- Reduce adhesion-knots before foam rolling- Use a ball to release some tight spots and hold for 30secs to 1 min. Releasing adhesions prior to foam rolling makes it even more efficient.
- Don’t foam roll for more than 20 mins- Foam rolling for too long can overwork some tissue. You can foam roll daily. Limit the foam rolling to 30-90 secs per muscle group.
- Don’t start by using a foam roller that is too firm- When you start foam rolling, start with a softer, even-surfaced roller. Once your muscle tissues start releasing and getting use to the pressure, you can gradually work your way up to a firmer roller.
- Foam roll your IT Band carefully- Putting both feet together on top of the foam roller can put too much pressure against the femur, which can be very painful. Start by putting your top leg on the ground and your hand on the floor to relieve some pressure. As you progress, you can slowly add a little more pressure to get more IT Band release.
- Don’t roll over the knee cap- Rolling all the way down from the quads to the shins can damage the cartilage and ligament attachment in your knee.
- Foam rolling injuries- Rolling over injured areas can aggravate muscle tissue. Wait to foam roll sensitive or injured areas until the pain subsides.
- Set your foam rolling in your schedule- Don’t use foam rolling sessions only on running days, muscle tightness isn’t only from running. Sitting for hours causes muscle tightness in the hips, decreases the range of motion. Keep foam rolling a consistent routine in your life schedule.
- After you finish your foam rolling session, then perform some static stretches. You will see a big difference in your muscle flexibility.
Foam rolling is also very beneficial to improve your running performance. Self-Myofascial Release will improve your muscle quality, flexibility and strength. The more flexible your muscles are within a normal range of motion, the more power they will be able to produce. The more stretch a muscle gets, the more stored energy it has, and the more power it will be able to produce. A less flexible muscle produces less stretch, less range of motion, less stored energy and decreases the energy power. Combine foam rolling with good stretching, and muscle strengthening to help improve your performance level and reach new goals!