Warm up. We are not saying that you can’t
foam roll when your body is cold, but we
wouldn’t advise it. Get your heart pumping
for a good 10 minutes with calisthenics before
foam rolling. If you are working out, get your workout
done first, then foam roll and stretch afterwards.
Trigger points. When you’re running a
foam roller up and down each body part,
there can be sore spots in certain areas of
the muscle. When you hit a sore spot, sit
on it for around 10 seconds. Make sure to always roll
toward the heart when on a sore spot.
Pain. As the old adage goes, “No pain, no
gain.” If you are an active person who
rides often and has not incorporated much
stretching or foam rolling into your routine,
chances are foam rolling is going to hurt. If this is you,
opt for softer foam to start with. Since it is only your
body weight on the roller, you can lessen the weight
with your hands and feet. We recommend tracking your
progress with a pain-management scale. Rate each body
part on a pain scale from 1 to 10. If you use the foam
roller consistently, the pain will decrease, then you can
move to a stiffer foam or even a large PVC pipe.
Duration. When first starting out, start
small. If you are new to foam rolling, your
body will become extremely sore if you stay
on any muscle group too long. Start with 10
seconds for each muscle, then slowly work up to
30 seconds or a minute. In the beginning, do it once
every other day. When you are no longer sore, start
foam rolling every day. Top athletes will roll up to two
or three times daily.
Recovery. As stated, there is a good
chance you may be sore the first few
times after foam rolling. Give it 24 to
48 hours before focusing on the same
area again. Just like a massage, foam rolling will break
down the muscles and release toxins into the body.
Don’t worry, this is a good thing. Just be sure to drink
plenty of water, get enough sleep and eat well. This
will help flush your system and fuel your muscles
more effectively. ❏
What it is. A foam roller consists of a
foam cylinder that comes in various sizes. A
12-inch-diameter roller is great for traveling,
but we recommend the bigger, 36-inch foam
roller for full bodywork. A variety of foam-roller densities
also exist. Those new to foam rolling, or those who
have particularly tight muscles, should start with a
softer foam roll.
What it does. Foam rollers work by using
the body’s natural response to pressure. As
you roll over tight spots or muscle trigger
points, the muscle relaxes. This is known
as self-myofascial release. Using a foam roller is an
inexpensive way to get a deep-tissue massage.
Effects. Whether you are racing or training,
you can induce micro tears and swelling
in muscle fibers, which impinge on nerves
and vessels. Over time, these micro tears
can develop into adhesions and scar tissue. Foam rolling
helps smooth out these obstructions and breaks down
adhesions. This increases blood flow within the muscle,
improves your rate of recovery and boosts performance.
Body parts. There are many areas of the
body that can benefit from foam rolling.
Everyone likes a good back massage. You
can duplicate this feeling along the entire
length of your back, but only while using the large,
36-inch roller. The more painful body parts you can roll
out are the quadriceps, IT bands and calves. You can
also hit the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, as these
are usually less painful and good to start out with.
How to use it. Using a foam roller is
simple, but working some areas may take a
bit of practice and some body contortions.
Start by finding a relatively open area with
ample floor space. Position the area of the body that you
want to focus on over the top of the foam roller. Control
the pressure by applying more or less body weight on
the foam roller and by using your hands and feet to
offset your weight as needed. It’s helpful to try a variety
of positions to see what works best for you. Make sure
to stay on the affected muscle. Do not roll over any joints
or bones, as it will cause more harm than good.
ABOUT FOAM ROLLING