How-To Guide to Foam Rolling
Ease muscle soreness and recover faster from your runs with a foam-rolling regimen
As runners, most of us have heard about foam rolling. We know it’s important, but we may not exactly know why, or how or when to do it. When done correctly, it’s a highly effective tool for recovery and can boost your performance on the trails.
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial (i.e. soft-tissue therapy) technique that breaks up adhesions and scar tissue that accumulates in our muscles during exercise and daily life activities. It helps to smooth out the rough patches and promote better blood flow to the muscle, which reduces soreness. In a study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that foam rolling the legs after a squat workout helped speed recovery. The subjects who foam rolled were less sore overall and they performed better in vertical leap, range of motion and muscle contraction tests.
Adding foam rolling to your daily routine can help you become more nimble on the trails—you’ll be training with less soreness and able to more effectively navigate rocks, roots and other impediments.
Foam rolling can be done pre- and post-workout. Spend 30 seconds to one minute on each movement. Breathe deeply and take it slow. When you hit a particularly tight area, stay there for an extra breath and allow the muscle to sink into the roller. This is the key part to self-myofascial release. Applying pressure to a tight spot or a knot sends a signal to the muscle, telling it to relax. Give your body and muscles time to make that connection.
On recovery days, spend more time (2-3 minutes) on each movement and add in multidirectional (e.g. side-to-side) movements while rolling.
Read on to learn how to target specific muscle groups with your foam roller ...