What is foam rolling?

April 19, 2017

 

Foam rolling is a type of self-massage. It allows you to reach areas of your body and release muscles using your own body weight.

 

Foam rolling aims to release trigger points and aid in the recovery process by helping to remove lactic acid build up.

 

Different tools can be used for self-massage: foam roller, tennis ball, golf ball, hockey/cricket ball, lacrosse ball, held-held stick, rolling pin, etc. 

 

 

How to foam roll

 

  • Lay on a firm surface; carpet or a yoga mat will help ensure the roller does not slip

  • Place the roller in the desired area you are trying to release

  • Roll up and down or side to side over the length of the muscle

  • If you find this difficult, split the area into 2 or 3 sections and roll them one section at a time

  • Roll over each area 6 - 15 times

  • If you find a tender area, you can stop over that area for up to 20 seconds and then continue rolling

 

Top tips for foam rolling

 

  • Start light and work deeper

  • Do NOT foam roll directly over an injury

  • Take your time and don't roll too fast

  • Hold one spot for a maximum of 20 seconds

  • Don’t use foam rolling to replace stretching; foam rolling does not lengthen a muscle

  • Maintain good form

How to foam roll your back

  • Place foam roller between your back and the floor

  • Bend your knees and use feet to raise your hips off the floor

  • Roll up and down to affect the muscles on either side of your spine

  • Slightly lean to the side to affect your latissimus dorsi muscles (lats)

How to foam roll your glutes


The gluteal muscles range from the top of your pelvic bone and sacrum (bottom of your spinal column) to the superior outer aspect of the femur.

  • Sit on the foam roller

  • Cross one leg over the other forming a figure 4

  • Lean to the side of the crossed leg

  • Roll up and down from the top of the pelvis to the base of the hip

How to foam roll your hamstrings


The hamstring ranges from your sit bone to the outer and inner aspect of your knee.

  • Place the foam roller at the back of the leg, above the knee

  • Use your arms to lift your buttocks off the floor

  • Roll from the base of your hip to the back of the knee. 

  • If this length causes you strain, split the leg into sections and roll the sections

  • Try to roll the hamstring from three different angles: roll the hamstrings with your toes pointing to 12 o'clock, 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock

  • Add more force to the roll by crossing your supporting leg over the leg being rolled

How to foam roll your calves


The gastrocnemius and soleus complex range from the back of your knee to your inner and outer ankle-bones.

  • Place the foam roller at the back of the leg, below the knee

  • Use your arms to lift your buttocks off the floor

  • Roll from the back of the knee to the top of your ankle. 

  • If this length causes you strain, split the leg into sections and roll the sections

  • Try to roll the calves from three different angles: with your toes pointing to 12 o'clock, 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock 

  • Add more force to the roll by crossing your supporting leg over the leg being rolled

How to foam roll your quadriceps


The quadriceps muscles range from your anterior hip-bone to your patella. 

  • Lay on your front and place the foam roller between your thigh and the floor

  • Use both legs and your arms to support yourself – bring your non-rolling leg to 90 degrees of hip flexion and knee flexion to provide support

  • Roll from the front of your hip to the top of your patella (NOT rolling over the patella)

  • If this length causes you strain, split the leg into sections and roll the sections

  • Roll your quads from two different angles: directly on the front and on the outer corner of your thigh (not directly on the side)

How to foam roll your adductors (inner thigh)


The adductor muscle ranges from your groin to your knee.

  • Lay on your front with your hip and knee bent to 90 degrees

  • Place the foam roller perpendicular to your thigh

  • Roll your body side to side
     

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