If you are reading this, you are either an athlete or know one. This is a triathlon [and more!] website and blog after all!
All athletes and friends of athletes know that stretching, massage, and other forms of muscle relief are important for overall athletic health. One thing that may already have become a room fixture for you is a foam roller.
The foam roller is a home tool used for relieving sore spots, knots, and other athletic pains. No, it is not a torture device. I’m sorry to say that the process is not altogether pleasant, but it does leave you feeling much better. Personally I have very tight IT bands and use the roller religiously to keep that pain under control. I also find it very beneficial for lower legs, quads, and lower back.
Foam rollers use direct pressure to relieve pain. Using body weight, you are able to add or take away pressure to get the right relief. Sometimes when my IT band or quad is very sore I have to start with very little pressure. Just lying on the roller can sometimes be enough to put a grimace on my face. Slowly I am able to put more pressure on the trouble spot and add some movement forward and back or side to side as the muscle releases its death grip. Other times I can slowly comb up and down my legs with no issues.
Rule of thumb: If it hurts, you are doing it right.
Rolling has been wonderful for injury prevention also. There are times when rolling that nothing seems to hurt too much. Other times it feels like the roller might as well have needles sticking out of it! When it is like that there is usually something else going on. This could be from over training, from doing something your body is not used to, or an indication a massage should be scheduled. Feeling problem spots before they become big activity-stopping injuries can mean the difference between watching from the sidelines and completing that big race.
I would highly recommend having and regularly using a foam roller. There are times when mine is used more as a clothes dryer or dust collector, but it doesn’t take too long to realize I am missing a part of my routine and I jump back on it.
Many companies make them and they come at many different price points. I would recommend not skimping and get one with a plastic or PVC core with padding around the outside. These will last forever and work better than the all foam ones. I have had a Trigger Point GRID roller for four years and it still works like the day I got it. Shop Now
In the comments, tell us your favorite way to use the foam roller.