Most triathletes will have at least heard of the foam roller, or encountered it in a gym. But many are still unsure of how to use them correctly. A foam roller can add huge benefits to an individual’s training, especially around recovery and range of muscle movement. Often training that doesn’t have direct benefits to performance are often overlooked or given less priority – these include stretching and core work.
Foam rollers, when used correctly, can release tension and tightness between the muscles and the fascia (which surrounds the muscle or group of muscles). Without proper mobility, fibers of the fascia become cross linked and they bind to muscles and nerves, inhibiting normal motion and causing pain.
This tension or tightness is usually caused by repetitive moving patterns, but also resistance training or other repetitive sports/actions. Foam rolling as well as dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility and range of movement, and decrease the risk of injury. Using a foam roller can provide similar benefits as deep-tissue massage. By increasing flexibility and decreasing muscle tension, it can help prevent injury and improve performance
The point with foam rolling is to use your body weight – so if an area really hurts, go gentle on it and support some of your weight elsewhere, using your arms. You can add more “weight” as the muscle relaxes. In other words work to your own pain threshold!
How long / often should I use the foam roller?
Foam Rolling can be done daily. When you performed, you want to make sure you roll along the whole length of the tissue that you are working on. If it’s your hamstring, you are going to roll from hip to knee. The same goes with the quadriceps and IT Band. There will be some tender spots along the way. That’s ok. Go over them, they will decrease in tenderness with regular foam rolling.
For tips how to use a foam roller please watch this video