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The Truth About Foam Rolling

Trainer and Author: Evina Del Pizzo

  • Instagram: @evinadelpizzo   
  • Business IG: @builtstrongstrength   

Photographer: Michael Healey

  • Instagram: @healeyfoto  

 

The foam roller is one item that everyone sees at the gym but hardly anyone ever uses it. It’s usually in the stretch and recovery area and available in all different colours and densities. 

Yes, it is that strange-looking long sphere sitting nestled on the wall. Many have seen gym-goers give it a shot and some have used it themselves, but most seem to walk away from it because it may hurt a lot more than anticipated. 

“Here is the secret; foam rolling kind of hurts. BUT, just like lifting or any other new skill, there are progressions of pain to work through when trying out a foam roller for the first time.”

Let’s define pain (before my mentors yell at me for using words that induce fear).

When foam rolling, we want to avoid joint pain. Many will experience discomfort directly on the area targeted by the foam roller. It should feel uncomfortable but not painful. To avoid the ‘pain’, simply reduce the amount of pressure on the particular spot. 

Why does it feel this way? 

This specific style of soft tissue manipulation is called Self Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR is an alternative stretch technique that helps relieve muscle imbalances, address knots and adhesions, and helps connective tissue relax and establish length-tension relationships. 

Think of it like a deep tissue massage; Myofascial Release = Massage. Self-Myofascial Release = Giving yourself a massage…

There are plenty of resources available about the science and development of foam rolling (if you are interested), but in this article, I want to show some of my favourite moves on the foam roller. 

Calf and Soleus 

To increase the range of motion in the ankles or help minimise pain at the bottom of the feet. 

  1. Start by placing the back of the ankle (right above the heel of the foot). 
  2. Keep the foot relaxed and stay seated on the floor.
  3. Roll the foot side to side and self assess for points of tension. 
  4. To increase the pressure, place the other foot on top of the working leg and apply more pressure.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat this step while working up the calf. 

Glutes

The lumbopelvic hip complex is the body’s centre of gravity. That means the lower back and hips can take quite a beating. This is how to conquer the aches in that area.

  1. Sit directly on top of the foam roller.
  2. Place the right hand down on the floor. 
  3. Place the left hand on the right knee and cross the right leg over the left knee. 
  4. Gently lean to the right – tension should start to fire in the right glute. 
  5. Lean or roll up and down the glute. There should be a buildup of tension. 
  6. Hold for 30 seconds. Stop and repeat on the left glute.

IT Band 

The IT Band is the connective tissue that starts at the hip and ends around the bottom of the knee or shin bone. It is not muscles. However, this is a simple way to release the muscles around the IT Band.

  1. Start by sitting on top of your foam roller with your right hand behind you. 
  2. Come down to the right elbow and straighten the right leg out. 
  3. Flatten the left hand on the floor and place the left foot in front of the body for balance.
  4. Lean into the IT Band SLOWLY. Hold for 30 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the left leg. 

Quads

Connected to both the hip and knee, the quads control most of the dominant daily movements. Don’t be surprised if they fire pretty hard during this experience. 

  1. Start on the knees by facing the floor with the foam roller at the thighs. 
  2. Lift the body toward the foam roller, pressing the quads into it.
  3. Descend to the floor onto the elbows. 
  4. Gently roll forward and back finding points of tension. 
  5. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute on one tense area, then move to find a new one. 

Back Extension (Spine Stretch) 

This one will help unlock another level of your body. This can help with breathing and moving better. There might be ‘cracking’ along the spine. As long as there is no pain associated with the pop/crack, you should be good.

  1. Lie on the floor with the bottom of the scapula pressed against the foam roller. 
  2. Gently rest the head on the hands.
  3. Draw the elbows around the head and point them to the sky.
  4. Keeping the hips on the floor and elbows tight, point the elbows as far back to the body’s first barrier of resistance and stop.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and move up or down and repeat. 

 

 

Practice these moves at home to help with increasing range of motion and muscle recovery!

 

If you haven’t already, order your foam roller today!

Buy a Dis-Chem Living Fit Foam Roller here:

https://livingfit.co.za/shop/living-fit-foam-roller-34×14-cm/

Buy Foam Roller on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-High-Density-Round-Roller-36-inches/dp/B00XM2MRGI/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=36+inch+foam+roller&qid=1646229933&sr=8-5

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You'll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

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