What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a roll of foam. It comes in many colors, a few sizes and many designs. Some are smooth (to your left) and others have various bumps. I’ve tried the bumpy ones and I’m not sold on them. I find that the premium you pay isn’t justify so I prefer the smaller solid foam rollers. The average cost of a basic, short foam roller is about $30.
I was first introduced the foam roller as a runner, it’s very useful for massaging out your kinks but I’ve turned around and used it as a cross-training type of tool. I can’t stress enough how important a foam roller is to a runner; this tool is used to massage your entire legs and it helps prevent injuries.
The most important part of the leg to massage, is the IT band. The IT band typically will knot without one knowing until an injury explodes. The foam roller helps massage out the knots so this should be done on a regular basis. If you feel excruciating pain then it’s working. Over time, the pain will lessen until it’s just tolerable.
Important Note: The IT band should only be rolled from the top of the hip to right above the knee, rolling over the knee could injury the knee.
Pull forward on your forearm until the foam roller is under your hip. Once you find a painful spot, do tiny little adjustments to focus on those spots. Expect pain. Lots of pain. Not fun pain.
This is probably the most awkward of positions and it does take some getting used to.
Make sure, you always do both sides.
A good calf roll will release the knots in your calves. This should be done on a regular basis but especially when you feel a tightness in your calf.
Notice how my arms are extended in the ending position? Since my butt is off the ground, I’m also working my arms, shoulders and core.
For a more basic movement, keep your butt on the ground.
For a more advanced movement, stack your legs.
A common mistake when foam rolling is to only foam the calves, shins etc. and to ignore the more awkward places like the inner thigh.
It’s a funny looking movement but don’t ignore it.
Once you start, roll your leg back and forth while pushing down. Notice that the roller itself is angled.
Roll your shins for the same reason you roll your calves, especially when you feel a tightness.
This is also a great upper body exercise.
Notice how my back is hunched in the starting position. Well, do as I say, not as I do. I didn’t realize that my back was hunched and I was too lazy to take a new picture.
The foam roller is a great vehicle for planks. By holding on to the ends, you’re actually using stabilizers that you wouldn’t normally use. I guess you could try doing low planks with the foam roller but it might be difficult. I typically do high planks. I am lazy so I’m using the same picture for planks as the one for push ups.
Push ups are quite self-explanatory but you wouldn’t believe how many people who actively use the foam roller, have never considered using it for anything else.
Really Super Important Note
If you look closely, you’ll see a bottle of vodka on the floor. The implication is that I was demonstrating these movements while drunk. It was a prop and I did it as a joke. Never, ever, ever drink vodka while exercising. Instead, drink rum.