Recently, all my time has been spent sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and foam rolling.
Or I should say, sitting with the foam roller in my lap…
…while watching The Bachelorette.
Ughhh Ryan! Blehhhh.
Team Arie! I heart him.
Back to the foam roller.
I’ve foam rolled every single day since the NASM workshop. That’s 2.5 weeks and counting! My legs feel fabulous as a result. It has made a HUMONGOUSNORMOUS difference in my performance and recovery. I can’t believe I haven’t been foam rolling all this time. I’ve been cheating my legs!
Stretching just doesn’t provide the compression like that of foam rolling.
NASM advises rolling before and after working out, but I’ve been doing it at night in front of the TV. Mostly because I don’t have time during the day, but also because I put it off (it hurts!). It’s getting less and less painful every day, which is exactly what the workshop instructor promised.
It takes me about an hour to foam roll each night. I know, that’s a long time. It doesn’t have to take a long time, though. 5-10 min. is enough to help. I just want/need to get all the knots out of my legs. Oh and I always take a break to eat a snack…and then finding the courage to continue takes awhile.
I thought my foam roller wasn’t as effective because it softened (yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Go ahead and say it…), which may still be true, but it’s more because I wasn’t rolling properly.
Notes I took at the workshop…
The picture is of a muscle spindle. The arrows are pointing to knots, which build up over time and pull your joints out of alignment. Foam rolling helps break up those knots.
The proper way to foam roll from NASM The Essentials of Personal Fitness Training…
- Gentle pressure (similar to a massage) breaks up knots within the muscle and helps to release unwanted muscular tension.
- Find a tender spot (which indicates presence of muscle hypertonicity) and sustain pressure on that spot for a minimum of 30 seconds (<—-IMPORTANT!!) It may take longer depending on the client’s ability to consciously relax (<—-IMPORTANT!!).
- This process will help restore the body back to its optimal level of function by resetting the proprioceptive mechanisms of the soft tissue.
- Self-myofascial release is suggested before stretching because breaking up fascial adhesions (knots) may potentially improve the tissue’s ability to lengthen through stretching techniques. In addition, it can be used during the cool-down process.
Some images from the book to help.
I do all of these as well as my quads.
My two cents…
Know Your Body
I’ve found that foam rolling has helped me figure out where my tight spots are located. My legs are pretty much all tied up in knots, but the super tight spots are different on each leg. In general my left leg is tighter than my right, which may explain why my left leg (hip, knee and shin) experiences pain before my right leg.
I used to do the see-saw action instead of rolling slowly. The instructor advised moving 1″ per second (slow!!) until you find a knot and then holding there for 30 seconds.
Hold for 30 Seconds!
It’s super important to HOLD for 30 seconds when you find a knot. I can only last about 10-20 seconds before I start sweating bullets and spewing out curse words, but the more I roll, the easier it gets.
Relax and Breathe
It’s also important to relax the area. If you tense up the muscle you are rolling, it doenst hurt as much, which seems ideal, but then it’s not working. Don’t forget to breathe!!
After foam rolling, I can feel my muscles tingling. Like in a good I-just-got-a-deep-tissue-massage way. Foam rolling has gotten less painful since I started 2+ weeks ago and like I said, I’ve noticed a huge difference in my performance and recovery.
Since I hadn’t been foam rolling at all, it was extra painful in the beginning. I will probably spend less time foam rolling once I work through the knots in my legs some more.
So there you have it. How to foam roll properly. I hope this has convinced those of you who don’t foam roll to do so!
Tell me: Do you foam roll? How often? Where are your biggest knots?
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