Foam Rolling Fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Yesterday morning, at around 8:45am I began an eight mile run. Everything was going great, the weather was perfect, I was testing out a new route, and my lungs and legs were feeling great, well that is until mile 6. Around mile 6, my hips decided to celebrate their 85th birthday right in the middle of my run. My IT-band tightened up, my hips got stiff, and I kept hearing a strange popping noise (never a good sign)! I finished the run, and couldn't wait to spend some quality time with my foam roller! I truly believe my little blue foam roller is one of my best friends! I use it on my neck when I have a headache, on my quadriceps when I get a little crazy in my sculpting classes, and on my IT-band when my hips decide to act like they're ancient! Have you ever tried foam rolling?

Benefits of Foam Rolling:

  • Self-myofascial release (similar benefits to a deep tissue message)
  • Increases flexibility
  • Decreases muscle tension and soreness
  • Helps prevent injury
  • Improves performance
  • Speeds recovery
  • Fix postural problems

So how does it work?
Foam rolling essentially is a way to experience myofascial release without going to a masseuse. It is not quite as effective as getting a deep tissue message, but you can do it anytime, anywhere! Foam rolling works via the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) in the muscle tendon area. When you apply pressure/tension to the point where the muscle believes it is at risk of injury, the GTO responds by relaxing the muscle. This response is called autogenic inhibition. By stimulating the GTO, we are able to cause relaxation of the muscle and consequently the fascia surrounding it. This allows us the achieve the stretch and range of motion we are after.

Tips For Foam Rolling:
  • Concentrate on sore or tight areas of the body
  • Be sure to roll the full length of the muscle
  • Make sure your muscles are warm before you begin your rolling session.
  • Stop on sore spots (trigger points) until the pain begins to fade, then return to rolling the full length of the muscle.
  • Always go slowly, it might hurt more, but it is well worth it!
  • Avoid rolling over bony areas and/or joints.
  • Roll over each area a few times until you feel it relax. Expect some discomfort. It may feel very tender or bruised at first.
  • Roll the injured area (ex: my it-band) 2-3 times a day. For prevention of injuries 2-3 times a week is recommended.
My Favorite Exercises:

Glutes & Hamstrings: Begin by sitting on the roller with the soft, meaty part of your glutes directly on top of the roller. Then slowly roll back and forth and slightly side to side to release any tight sports in the muscle. Slowly roll down your leg toward your knee and work the hamstrings in the same way. (picture above). Change your position from side to side to work the entire muscle. Slowly roll from the buttock down to the knee pausing on any tight or sore spots. You can increase the pressure by crossing one leg over the other.

Quadriceps: Simply lay on top of the roller using your hands for balance and roll slowly from the hip down to the knee. You can perform this exercise with one or both legs on the roller, depending upon how much pressure you can handle or desire. If you want less pressure, keep one leg off the roller and use the foot to support some of your body weight. If you want to increase the pressure, cross one leg over the other.

IT-Band: I'm going to be honest with you, this stretch can be painful but it is totally worth it! Lie on the foam roller on your side, with the roller positioned just below your hip. Your top leg can be in line with the bottom leg if you want a lot of pressure (be careful). Or, you can bend it in front of you to take some of your body weight of your bottom leg and provide better balance. Use your hands for support and roll from the hip down to your knee, pausing on any tight or sore spots. Repeat on the your other side.
Calves: Position the foam roller under your calves. Using your hands for support, slowly roll from the knee down to the ankle pausing on any tight or sore spots. Try rolling with your feet turned in and out. Keep toes flexed and pointed to work the muscle from different angles. To increase the pressure, cross one leg on top of the other!
Pictures taken from: 

If you don't have a foam roller at home, you might check at your local gym. Many fitness facilities have foam rollers near the stretching area, or they might even keep them behind the desk. If you have never tried foam rolling, I hope you will give it a try. Foam rolling can truly benefit everyone, not just runners!
Food for thought:
Have you ever tried foam rolling?
If so, what did you think?
Yours truly,


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9 Responses to “Foam Rolling Fun!”

  1. You know I love foam rolling! The IT band stretch might be one of the most painful things in the world, but it is so worth it. I really need to use mine more! I may come to Dallas for fun to watch you do the half marathon :)PS so good to see you this weekend!


  2. I am very happy how my body is shaping up – it looks firmer, my posture is improved, and I feel more in shape. My husband and son both commented that they really see the difference. I am less tired, sleeping better, and more hopeful and focused. My confidence and self-esteem has improved, and I worry less and enjoy life more. Thank you for everything!

  3. After our conversation yesterday and reading this post today... I have decided I just might need to invest in one! sounds amazing :)

  4. i LOVE my foam roller :) I use it EVERY DAY...mostly on my back and neck. I might try a new Fitness Friday thing on my blog and feature this post!

  5. Katie- I totally agree with you!! I literally almost cried this morning when I did it because I was so sore from yesterday!! I would love for you to come up for the half marathon. We could go shopping and I could show you around my side of Dallas! It was so good to see you too!

    Purity12lover- Your comment seriously just made my day! I am so excited for you and everything you have accomplished! This is what healthy living is all about- living life to it's fullest and enjoying every day! Please keep me posted on your progress!

  6. Mallory- Our conversation yesterday inspired this post! If you get one, let me know and I will show you all the cool ways to use it!! You're going to love it!

    Jamie- I'm pretty much obsessed with my foam roller too! I think a Fitness Friday post sounds like an amazing idea! I would be honored! I absolutely love your blog, it makes me strive to be craftier (is that a word?)!

  7. I definitely need to use a foam roller more often!

  8. I definitely need to start using a foam roller more often!!

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