There once was a time when foam rollers were as rare as unicorns and only existed in elite gyms and PT clinics.

It’s exciting to see the popularity of foam rollers rising. They’re even popping up in big box gyms that charge $10/month.

…And Marshalls!

Woo!

Any way, whether you love or hate the foam roller, you’re really not doing yourself any favors by skipping it or only spending 0.9 seconds on your quads and calling it a day. Let me remind you of the benefits of foam rolling, cause yeah, it’s that awesome.

Why Foam Roll?

  • Long story short, it essentially helps to turn muscles “off.” Upper back or hamstrings always tight? Foam rolling can help
  • Breaks down any adhesion or scar tissue in our muscles that limit our range of motion
  • Works out any knots you may have
  • Helps to release trigger points
  • Some research has shown foam rolling increases blood flow and vascular function
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Improves posture and function
  • Helps to prevent injuries from running, lifting, or overuse in general

The Standard Go-to Areas

Obviously everyone’s needs are going to be different, and people will feel the effects of rolling in some spots more than others. But the standard areas are always a good place for beginners or extraordinarily tight folks.

Quads

Hamstrings

Calves

Upper back

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IT Bands

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Foam Rolling 2.0- The new spots that need attention

The TFL – aka the ‘pocket’ muscle. This is the small muscle that runs in between your IT band and your quads. If neither of those spots are tight, try getting in the middle area (wear your pants pocket would be) and it’s a game changer.

The VMO – This is the quad muscle closest to the knee in your inner thigh. This is a very important spot to get especially if you’re varus or bow-legged.

The Psoas (or hip flexor) – So the hip flexor is a tough one to get with the foam roller; it’s best to do with a tennis or lacrosse ball. Lay on your stomach with the ball between you and the floor. Start with it right under your pelvic crest of your hip bone (the part that protrudes) and roll around slowly to find the tender spots.

Medial Gastroc (or inner calf) – Like I said earlier, the calves are a good go-to spot. However changing the angle just a little bit will make a huge difference. Manipulate the position on the roller by crossing one ankle over the other and turning your foot inward to get the inside of your calf muscle.

Conclusion

Foam rolling is all about taking it slow and finding the spots where you feel it the most. If you feel nothing on your quads but your calves cry a little every time you roll them, don’t waste too much time on your quads. It’s easy to manipulate angles and find tender areas, you just have to play around with it. On my non-workout days, I almost always spend around 30 minutes foam rolling. It’s one of the best things you can do for your body!

If don’t already have one for home, I highly recommend it. If you have limited time during the day, it’s convenient to have one at home to use for 10 minutes while you watch a show or wait for dinner to heat up.  You can get them at most sporting goods stores, and sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll find them in a Marshalls or TJ Maxx. However the cheapest place that I’ve found is http://www.optp.com.

Enjoy!

 

-LD