Foam rolling exercises

April 20 2016

Foam rolling is an integral part of training and proper recovery after an intense workout. Using the foam roller on your legs, arm or back is a great way to alleviate tightness and relax knotted muscles, not just in post-workout but pre-workout as well. Here, our PT Ambassador Simon Cowen explains how, by applying pressure to different parts of your body with the roller, you aid your muscle recovery and help them to return to their normal state.

Who is it best for – men or women why?
Foam rolling is great for anyone and everyone! Both men and women will experience the same benefits, which include reducing muscle tension and strain after an intense workout.

When should you use it?
Foam rolling can be used both before and after a gym workout. Whether you plan to take a HIIT class or try a Zumba class, a foam roller will help to speed up the recovery process and minimise soreness.

How often should you do it?
This depends on how often you exercise and what your fitness goals are. If you are an avid runner who rarely suffers from muscle tightness there may be little benefit in using the foam roller on a regular basis. If you are just beginning your exercise regime and experience an uncomfortable amount of tightness, you may want to use the foam roller every other day for a short period. Use the roller until your tightness subsides. As you become fitter, tightness and soreness should gradually disappear.

What are the best moves?
Target the outside part of your lower leg, which can be associated with shin splits. Start at the top near your knee and work the roller down the leg. Try this in a kneeling position. You can also target the calf in the same position by rotating your leg to the side to pinpoint knotted muscles.

Foam roll the inner muscle on the front of your thigh by positioning yourself in a plank position. Rock your plank forward and back, with the foam roller underneath your thigh, to relieve tension in that area while also working your abs.

What type of foam roller should you use?
Foam rollers differ in size, shape, foam type and cost. To choose the right one for you, try a variety of rollers at your local gym or sports store. Consider how often you plan to use the foam roller as heavy use will require a denser roller that is durable.

Anything you wouldn’t expect from using a foam roller – any negatives?
Be mindful of any pain you’re experiencing when rolling – if an area really hurts, be gentle and support some of your weight elsewhere, using your arms.

Avoid using a foam roller on your back as it will add unnecessary pressure to your spine, which could prompt injury.

How does foam rolling help – what are the health benefits? Is there anything that you should be careful of?
Foam rolling alleviates tightness and relax knotted muscles, not just in post-workout but pre-workout as well. By applying pressure to different parts of your body with the roller, you aid muscle recovery and help them to return to their normal state.

Never roll a joint or bone. Foam rollers are meant to target your muscles and will apply unneeded pressure on those areas, which could put you at risk for injury.