I’m not going to lie, the first time I used a foam roller in the gym I thought my back was going to snap. The love/hate I had for my PT reached new levels that day – it was a sure sign that my muscles were tight as hell and using one was long overdue.
Despite initially regarding them as an instrument of torture, I sucked it up and continued to use it before and after workouts as advised. I’m now a complete convert come preacher, and cannot recommend using one enough – to everyone and anyone who’ll listen. So much so, I bought my dad one for Christmas (he was less than impressed), but he’ll thank me one day!
Feeling ‘the burn’ after a workout is like a badge of honour, a sign you’ve trained hard and are getting stronger. However, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can hinder your training and increase risk of injury. I’ve learnt this the hard way over the years with numerous injuries (torn intercostal muscle THE worst!), because I didn’t stretch sufficiently or do any form of active recovery.
Self-myofascial release (self-massage) with a foam roller relieves tight muscles by smoothing out the knots and encouraging blood flow to the area, returning them to normal function. It hurts! But works… it’s uncomfortable but bearable and gets easier over time. Rolling daily or 3/4 times per week could save you a fortune in physio fees if/when your muscles finally give in!
Here’s a few exercises I do…
Hamstring roll – I regularly find myself walking like John Wayne, I do this most days. To roll your hamstrings, place the roller beneath your thigh and roll from your lower bum to your knee.
Glute roll – the biggest muscle group in the body, I’m trying to make mine much bigger! To roll your glutes, sit on the roller and rest one foot on the opposite knee. Place your weight onto the side with the resting foot and roll back and forth.
Quad roll – to roll your quads, start in a plank position with the roller below your upper thigh. Place weight on one side of your body, then roll forwards so that the foam roller moves towards your knee.
Back roll – I find this most satisfying, my back is always in knots from the gym, bad posture and sitting at my desk. To roll your back, lie on your back and place the roller below your shoulders, then roll towards your ribs and lower back, back and forth.
My foam roller cost around £15 from eBay, they come in all shapes and sizes but ultimately they all do the same thing – a great investment.