Updated: Mar 18, 2021
So what is "foam rolling?" Self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling is the use of a cylindrical tube or similar device to relieve muscle tension. I worked out for years before realizing the incredible benefits of foam rolling. A regular foam rolling routine pre and post workout will lead to better workout preparedness and improved post workout recovery.
Types of Foam Rollers
The most basic type of foam roller is cylindrical in shape. Rollers come in different sizes, shapes, and densities. They typically come in sizes ranging 18 to 36 inches in length. Tennis, golf, or lacrosse balls are also used for self-myofascial release to target smaller areas or muscles. Beginners will use softer foam rollers because it will take time to get used to rolling on tender spots. In order to feel greater pressure, rollers that are denser and have grooves or vibrational capabilities are also used.
The use of a simple roller is an excellent form of massage therapy for beginners. Simple rollers vary in density. The softer rollers are better for beginners, while the denser rollers require time to get used to.
After increased use with simple foam rollers, some people will require rollers with grooves that can dig deeper into muscle tissue.
Massage roller sticks are a great tool to relieve muscle tension in problem areas. They can be used on the arms, legs, or back. They allow the user to apply as much or as little pressure as one can handle.
Trigger point balls are convenient and simple to use. They can be used while sitting on a chair, laying down, on a yoga mat, or even in bed. Tennis, lacrosse, or golf balls can be used as trigger point balls. They're excellent on smaller muscle groups or specific areas of muscle, such as shoulders, calves, or the upper back.
How to Foam Roll
Self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling can be done on most body parts. Your shoulders, biceps, upper back, glutes, quads, and other lower body parts are examples of areas that can be foam rolled.
To begin, lay on your back with a foam roller placed beneath your upper back. Slowly slide the roller down your back until you feel a tender spot, then stay there for 30 seconds, then continue to move down your upper back and repeat the process.
Foam rolling the lower back is not advised. Areas that are foam rolled should have a bony protection. In the lower back, the liver and the kidneys have little bony protection. Rolling on this area can be dangerous when body compression is applied against an object.
Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Place the roller underneath your knees. You can put one leg on top of another to increase pressure. Roll from the knee toward your your posterior hip. When a tender spot is felt, hold the roller there for 30 seconds and move on to the next spot.
Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Place the foam roller beneath the top of your calves, or under your knees. Slowly move the roller down toward your ankle until a tender spot is felt. Hold the roller at tender spots for 30 seconds before moving on.
Start by supporting yourself in a pushup position with the foam roller in between your quads and the ground. Slowly roll the quadricep muscle down from your hip to the knee. Be sure to hold the movement at tender spots for at least 30 seconds.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
Self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling holds a variety of benefits, including stress relief, muscular therapy, decreased inflammation, increased blood circulation, improved posture, tissue mobility, and reduced muscle soreness. Any training/workout program will benefit from the implementation of foam rolling.