Roll out on National Foam Rolling Day, May 11th, with tips about foam rolling from Jeff Monaco, Gold’s Gym fitness expert. Foam rolling, a stretching technique that’s also known as self-myofascial release (SMR), involves rolling your body over a soft tube. It can provide many benefits to both the regular gym-goer and the athlete. The keys to effective foam rolling include investing in a high-quality foam roller and spending adequate time performing foam rolling exercises—merely spending two to three minutes rolling back and forth over the surface of the muscles is not likely to help.
Proper foam rolling should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes and can produce the following benefits:
- Increased blood flow to the muscles immediately after foam rolling; research shows that blood flow is still elevated up to 30 minutes after foam rolling.
- Improved range of motion without negatively impacting muscle activation or force production.
- Reduced muscle soreness after intense movements.
- Improved muscle activation—engaging weaker muscles to help support joints—in repeated movements.
These benefits indicate that foam rolling should be used as part of both the warm-up and cool-down portions of an exercise session.
- Warm-up: Foam rolling as part of your warm-up can increase blood flow and improve range of motion that will allow the muscles to perform more work during the workout.
- Cool down: Remember to do foam rolling after your workout to reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle activation for the repeated bouts of exercise, which means less time for your muscles to recover. Your muscles will then be able to work at greater capacity in your next workout, which can lead to greater results.
Here are 3 areas you should foam roll before or after your next workout:
- Upper Back: With glutes on the ground, lay shoulder blades on to the foam roller. The foam roller should be parallel with shoulders or perpendicular to spine. Hug yourself or put each hand on the outside of the opposite shoulders. This will cause good protraction of the scapula and expose more musculature. Lift your hips away from the ground. Roll throughout the thoracic spine (bottom of neck down to mid back).
- Quads: Facing the ground lay one thigh on top of the roller. The foam roller should be perpendicular to the leg. Hands and feet can be used to regulate how much weight/pressure is but into the foam roller. Roll from hip down to just above knee cap. Very important to rotate a few degrees left and right on top of the roller after several passes so that each of the quadriceps are targeted.
- Calves: Sit upright on the floor. Rest the lower leg on top of the roller. The foam roller will be perpendicular to the leg. Both legs can be on the roller at once. If more pressure is desired, lay one leg on top of the other. Lift your hips off the ground by pushing your hands into the ground. Roll from heel to back of knee. Again, rotating on the foam roller to hit various musculature throughout the lower leg is key.