Do you own a foam roller? Perhaps you were given one for Christmas, or maybe you bought one off Amazon after hearing how good they were for your recovery? Maybe you’ve had one for a while and not used it, maybe you’ve been hammering your legs every day with it since you got it – either way it is important to know the hows and whys of when to use your foam roller.
Using a foam roller before you start an activity will allow you to perform gentle myofasical release on anywhere you might recognise as problem areas in your own body. Slowly rolling the muscle will gently allow greater blood flow to that area, effectively ‘waking up’ the muscles or areas being rolled allowing greater range of motion and movement, so when you follow on with mobility and light cardiovascular exercise to fully warm up into your activity, you will have activated your key muscle groups hopefully helping prevent injuries or further problems occurring in these areas.
Even if you have no particular ‘problem areas’, rolling your major muscle groups such as the quadriceps or calf muscles lightly before every exercise session will still bring the benefit of increased blood flow, elasticity, and activity in the muscles, preparing them for the workout ahead with some studies suggesting it can also help prevent muscle soreness after the session.
Be sure to roll the full length of the muscle you are working on, without crossing over any joints with the roller ie when rolling the quadriceps, move the roller from the hip down to the knee & back, up to 60 seconds per muscle group is plenty to increase blood flow and feel the benefit.