Foam Rolling – What You Need to Know

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Steve Tangen | Fargo, ND SCHEELS Expert – Exercise Manager

Key to Recovery

An easy way to benefit more from your workout is to learn how to properly foam roll. Fitness Expert Steve Tangen runs through his approach to foam rolling and how to find a foam roller that is right for you.

1) Select the right size roller. Foam rollers usually come in many different varieties from 12” to 36” depending on what you plan to use the roller for. This can also make the rollers easy to transport, or leave in your workout space at home

2) Select the type of roller. Rollers are made with several textures and thicknesses from regular, soft foam to knobby and bumpy textures that are very dense. The softer roller will give you a gentle massage, while the stiffer more aggressive roller will dig deeper into your muscle and give relief to deep tissue. 

How to Use Your Foam Roller

First, place the roller on the ground and position the body part you would like to roll on top of the roller. This may mean you have to support yourself or contort your body to fully accomplish this. For instance, if I wanted to roll my hamstrings I would have to place one or both legs on the roller and hold myself up with my hands to get myself off the ground so I could physically roll my legs back and forth on the roller. 

To accomplish the rolling technique, try to allow your muscles to “sink” into the roller by putting your weight as pressure on the roller. This technique will put more focused tension on your muscle and dig deeper while rolling. Once you’ve achieved  that, try to roll up and down the muscle slowly and completely from origin to insertion. 

It is important to never make foam rolling a race and roll as fast as you can, as you won’t achieve much tension release and may not feel the results at all.  You can even stop intermittently while rolling and knead the muscle back and forth to work specific areas due to point tenderness. 

You should roll each muscle for 30-60 seconds or about 20 repetitions. The most common areas to roll are hamstrings, hip flexors/quads, IT bands, calves, glutes, chest and back. The concept with foam rolling is to release any tightness or scar tissue that can build up in a muscle’s connective tissue which may have formed over repetitive use or strenuous exercise. 

If done regularly, you can gain back range or motion and flexibility lost to tightness and overuse. 

Be sure to research how to roll specific areas before rolling them repetitively and never roll through pain and injury.  Consult an exercise specialist or trainer if you have any questions about foam rolling.

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