I’m sure you have seen foam rollers of various shapes and sizes in the gym and people flopping around on them like fish out of water, not really sure of the proper way to use them. Foam rollers are used primarily for self-myofascial release. That more or less translates to “self massage” meaning we are compressing the muscle/tendon to get rid of soft tissue adhesions or scar tissue. This is safer and easier than stretching!
Performing self-myofascial release will increase performance, lower the risk of injury, and improve mobility. Here are 5 uses for the foam roller that lifters of any level can use:
1. IT Band: Think of the IT band like a guitar string that runs from the hip to the knee and splits your quadriceps and hamstrings. This is connective tissue that is often excessively tight which would lead to lateral knee pain. Roll area for 30-60 seconds.
2. Quadriceps: Tight quads will contribute to knee pain and reduced performance. Roll area for 30-60 seconds shifting weight to inner and outer quads.
3. Piriformis: This is a muscle that is hard to pinpoint and usually falls into the “glutes” category. Tight Piriformis will lead to sciatic pain and reduced movement in the hip. This is one movement on the roller that will really show itself once you apply pressure to the specific area and not feel if you move just inches away from it. Roll area for 30-60 seconds
4. Thoracic spine extensions: T-spine extensions are not quite self-myofascial, but more of a mobility movement. Thoracic spine mobility is very important especially when working with strength athletes. Repeat twice.
5. Pectoralis stretch: The roller can also be used for a great chest stretch. This opens up the chest and allows for greater range of motion and better posture. Hold stretch for 60 seconds.
These five easy movements on the roller will improve your performance and function. Be sure to start with a softer roller which is more giving and then move onto something more dense once your body adjusts.