How do you foam roll?

Foam rolling is an essential component to any athlete's recovery program. 

Compression created by placing your body weight on the foam roller can break up the tightness or knots in your muscle/tissue. In order to foam roll properly, apply mild to moderate pressure to the specific area you want to foam roll. If the direct pressure is too much or painful, you should shift the roller in order to decrease the amount of pressure on the roller. Once you get the correct amount of pressure, slowly roll your body over the desired area. Do not roll more than a few inches per second. When you feel restrictions, pause for a second or two in order to aid in the muscle/tissue restriction releasing. Most restrictions will start to release after rolling on the area for about 30 seconds. This self-massage or release will help with restoring proper blood flow and re-alignment of the muscle/ tissue being worked on. The benefits are invaluable as foam rolling can improve flexibility, muscular function, performance, and increase range of motion!  

Follow along below as Doctor of Physical Therapy, Daniel Giordano demonstrates how to properly roll out your body. 

Gluteus/ Piriformis:

Sit on top of the foam roller in a “figure 4 position” (one leg crossed over the thigh). Hands placed behind you, with palms flat on the floor. Transfer your weight to the side of which foot is off of the ground. Roll up/ down/side to side 2 inches at a time throughout entire glute, pausing on the “knots” in the area.

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TFL/ Gluteus Medius:

Lie on your side with forearm propped (as if in a side plank position) with the foam roller placed just under pelvis bone. Slightly rotate your entire body posteriorly, so that the pressure of the roller is between your buttocks and your hip. Roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area.

Quadriceps:

Lie on your stomach with forearms on the floor (as if in a forearm plank position) with the foam roller under your thighs. Roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. Because the quadricep is a large muscle, separate the rolling into segments. Do not try to roll the entire muscle at once. In order to increase the intensity, cross one leg over the other and shift your weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.

For more intensity or when specificity is needed apply the pin and stretch technique shown below to best target your trigger points, by sinking into one area and mobilizing the joint above or below it. Every person's connective tissues are different and tolerance varies, so start with light pressure and breathe as you apply increased pressure!

Hamstrings:

Sit on the floor with the roller placed under both hamstrings, slightly above the knees. Hands placed behind you, with palms flat on the floor. Roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. In order to increase the intensity of the rolling, cross one leg of the other and shift your weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.

Mid/Upper Back:

Sit on the floor with the roller placed under your mid-back, between your neck and lower back. Either place arms over your head with thumbs facing the floor or cross your arms over your chest, as if you are giving yourself a hug. Roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. In order to increase the intensity, bridge your hips up, keeping core tight and chin tucked (looking towards your navel). Make sure you do not bridge up past neutral spine (bridging too high, will cause hyperextension of your back)

Lats:

Lie on your side with the bottom with the foam roller placed on your side about 6” below your armpit and your bottom arm extended over your head with the thumb facing up. Using your legs and the opposite hand (placed on the floor in front of you), roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. Do not go past the armpit, but instead slightly roll backwards at the top, working on the tissue on your shoulder blade

Calf/ Soleus:

Sit on the floor with the roller placed under both calfs, slightly below the knees (on thick part of calf muscle). Hands placed behind you, with palms flat on the floor. Roll up/ down/side to side a few inches at a time pausing on the “knots” in the area. As you go lower, you will hit your Soleus muscle. Do not roll too far down towards the achilles tendon (stay about 2 inches above the heel). The achilles tendon is very sensitive and rolling directly on the area may cause irritation. In order to increase the intensity of the rolling, cross one leg of the other and shift your weight towards the leg on the bottom, then begin to roll.

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