As runners we tend to have a love hate relationship with our foam rollers. Loving the recovery results and increased mobility but despising the discomfort, pain and time spent on them after our training sessions. Many of us even opt to use the roller after those training sessions which we deem hard enough to warrant a good rolling.
We have done our research and trials with our ambassadors to tell you what you already know and don’t want to hear… If you want sustainable running then ROLL, ROLL and ROLL some more. Let’s have a look at why the foam roller should be a runners best friend.
Foam Rolling or for the med heads- self-myofascial release; is the self-application of pressure to eliminate scar-tissue and soft-tissue adhesion (self massaging), is a process which aids in allowing normal blood flow to return to our muscles after physical activity. This physical activity progressively tightens our muscles causing restricted blood flow to them. Having tender/soft muscles allows ease of blood flow for muscle recovery and effective restoration of healthy tissue.
Neglecting rolling and softening our muscles can contribute to pain, injury, muscle adhesions and a loss of range of movement.
Think of your muscles like your steaks; tender is better. Our muscles should be soft and non-restrictive. Rolling our legs effectively helps to soften tight muscles and those knots formed in and around them.
Now we know why we do it, let’s look at how to do it right:
When we foam roll we want to apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle using gravity and our bodyweight on the roller. We want to aim to slowly and steadily, moving no faster than 3cm a second.
We can expect to come across muscles that will feel particularly tight and painful. When we find these areas it is important to make sure we try to relax and pause with roller engaging the area of discomfort. Keep the pressure on for 5-30 seconds. The pain/discomfort should start to dissipate over this time.
It can sometimes be too painful to adequately roll an area. If this is the case we can aim to roll the immediate surrounding area of and gradually work to loosen that particularly tight and painful area.
Here are some tips what not to do;
-Foam roll directly on an injury. We can use the technique to work the surrounding area and from there if possible lead to the area of pain. All injuries should be assessed by a medical professional to manage the risk of aggravation.
-Don’t roll too quickly. Keep it nice and slow and allocate a good 15-30 minutes of time to really get into the legs.
-Don’t roll the one spot too long as this may aggravate the area- The maximum amount of time you should spend on any one area is 20 seconds
-Rolling with bad form and posture. Rolling can require an element of core strength, as we have a pose similar to planking when are working legs. So having some experience in core strength will help maintain our posture (and also great for holding our running form). If we can’t hold a good strong posture when we roll it may be beneficial to come later when we aren’t so fatigued from our run.
If you liked, didn’t like, think we can do better with this article, and/or would like some more information on running recovery please let us know via comments, contact us or social media.