The Foam Roller – Love or Hate it?!

Either way, it is good for you! An effective way to decrease every day aches and pains and improve flexibility.

I love to use the roller in my classes, but my clients are not always as excited to see them! Some love it and others will groan as they enter the class and see them on the mats! On one occasion, I left the room after having put them all out for the class and when I came back, they had all been hidden! What a mischievous group!!

Love or hate it foam rolling has many benefits. It is a self-myofascial release technique (SMR) that helps to release tension in the muscles, relieve muscle soreness, and improve flexibility and range of motion. It’s like getting a sports massage, but at a fraction of the cost!

How does it work and why does it hurt?

  1. Disrupts the nerves that transmit pain signals…. like rubbing your leg when you have hurt it.
  2. Increases blood flow, to get rid of the chemicals that cause inflammation and pain.
  3. Re-distributes water to the dehydrated muscles and the fascia surrounding them.
  4. Releases sore points in your muscles called trigger points and tight fascia. This is the ‘myofascial release’.

It can be uncomfortable and cause pain and discomfort, but good technique should keep it tolerable! I believe it’s most affective when done slowly and you work in small sections with a moderate amount of pressure.

6 Key Areas to Foam Roll

Quads

Pilates Quad Roller Exercise

Start in a forearm plank position with the roller at the top of the thighs. Walk the forearms forward to slowly roll down towards the knees and then back.

Calves

Pilates Calves Roller exercise

Start in sitting with the roller positioned underneath one of your calves. Bend the other leg and lift your body up so your weight is resting on the roller. Use your arms and foot to slowly roll back and forth.

Hamstrings

Pilates Hamstring Roller Exercise

Start by sitting with the roller resting at the top of the legs. Bend one knee and use the foot and arms to roll between the back of the knee and tops of the thighs

Hip Flexor/TFL

Start on your side with the roller underneath the outside of the leg just below the hip. Rest your body weight on your forearm. Bend at the knee with the other leg and use the foot as a lever to roll between your knee and glute.

IT Band

Start on your side with the roller underneath the outside of the leg just below the hip. Support the body with your hand or forearm. Bend at the knee with the other leg and use the foot as a lever to roll between your knee and glute.

Mid Back

Start in seated and lean back on the roller with it just touching the base of the shoulder blades. Bend the knees, lift the bottom slightly and push and pull with the feet to roll back and forth over the mid back.

Tip – For all the above moves try stopping wherever it feels tight or tender. Inhale and then as you exhale, slowly roll your way down.

When you find a sore spot or trigger point, hold for a while until it relaxes (usually between 10 and 30 secs) and then move on. Your goal is to restore healthy muscles – not a pain tolerance test!

Where? How long? How often to use the Foam Roller?

I would recommend foam rolling to everyone who takes part in sport or exercises regularly.  Its affordable and easy to do.  You can roll and stretch daily, maybe working on muscle groups for between 1 and 5 minutes, or certainly until you start to feel a release.

Try one of my Roller classes in my On-demand Pilates Collection, then follow it with one of the stretch classes and you will feel fantastic! Foam Rolling followed by stretching will give you faster results if you are after improving your flexibility and relieving muscle soreness.

 

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