Running Questions - Answers
How do I properly use a foam roller?
Avatar Gian Swan
07 December 2017

I heard foam rollers can be painful to use, but are also very helpful. I’m curious if this is true, and is there a way to use them properly?

Answer :
Elizabeth Carlson
05 December 2017

"It hurts so good" is the name of the game when it comes to foam rolling. This simple device can be feared as a tool for torture, but hardly anything else compares when it comes to a cheap, affordable way to massage your tight muscles and speed up recovery. We have a great article you can refer to here that explains the basics of foam rolling. You will find several different types and styles of foam rollers on the market but they all do the same thing - they target tight muscle spots on your legs and, through repeated pressure rolled up and down the point of tension, the tightness slowly starts to unravel. This process of untightening usually is not without some pain and it definitely takes a bit of self discipline to push yourself to withstand the pain, but it is worth it! Your muscles will feel looser and more relaxed. You will be more recovered and better off for your next run because foam rolling increases the blood flow to those areas of tightness. In fact, regularly incorporating foam rolling into your training really helps avoid injury. If you allow your muscles to remain tight for too long, your body starts to overcompensate for the tightness and negatively impacts your running form, which often leads to injury.

Basically, place the foam roller under the area that is tight and use your body weight to roll back and forth. Probably the most common use for the foam roller is to loosen up the IT band - the band that runs along the outsides of your legs, from your hip to your shin. To foam roll the IT band, lay down on your side with the foam roller near your hip and roll your body over the foam roller so that it rolls down the length of your leg. The more weight you put on it, the greater the pressure (and probably the pain) but the faster the recovery time! The same principles of weight distribution can be applied to other areas of tightness, including the calves, quads, hamstrings, and back.


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