Myofascial Release (Foam Roller) - Sore? Try this.
Updated: Nov 12
Myofascial Release (the use of a roller) is an easy, inexpensive, and accessible way to do the following:
Correct muscle imbalances
Improve joint range of motion
Relieve muscle soreness and joint stress
Decrease neuromuscular hypertonicity
Increase extensibility of musculotendinous junction
Improve neuromuscular efficiency
Maintain normal functional muscular length
If one of those reasons was not enough for you… I don’t even know.
Therefore, if you are sore, do this. My motto: get on the foam and roll my little heart out. Move slowly - use my body weight - stop where it hurts - and breathe through the pain.
Where do I find one?
I found my cute pink roller (around $20-30) at a sporting store - but I am sure you can find it at places like :
Your local gym
There are some more intense rollers like a High Density (mine), Rumble Roller, Grid Roller, etc. Some people even use a PVC pipe. I recommend trying some out a your local gym or fitness store. I got one for Sean and his son uses it as a telescope.
How do I do this?
By research, it is recommended that you roll (each side if there are two) for 1-2 minutes and stop and rest on the sore areas for 30-45 seconds. You will basically feel the pain taper out.
*If you find yourself saying ‘I don’t feel anything’, then you are not pressing your body weight onto the roller. It is most likely going to hurt - that means it is working.*
You can do this while watching TV - so you have no excuses not to do this. It is not a break-a-sweat workout and it feels great. It is recommended that you do this once a day or every other day, but if I can get this done every few days I am doing pretty good.
Here are a few of the basic and most used techniques. I am not going to list all of them because there is plenty of research online to provide the information.
Iliotibial Tract (IT Band)
This is a hot spot for soreness (including runners specifically). Starting by laying on one side - the bottom leg raised partially off of the floor and the other crossed over the front - roll from the hip to the knee along the lateral thigh. Use you arms for support and remember to stop on the sore areas for 30-45 seconds.
Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)
Laying on one side, roller perpendicular, using arms for support, cross leg over other (much like the IT Band roll) and roll from hip to just above knee. Think of this as slightly higher than the IT Band area and more towards the anterior (front).
My daughter is playing hide and seek.
You can cross your feet if you want - place your hamstrings on the roller. Roll from the hip to the knees and you should feel it in your hamstrings. I use this one quite often.
I may or may not continue rolling through the glutes…
Oooooh the quads. Great after leg day. In the prone position (facedown) - place the quads on the roller and hold your core tight (belly button to spine). Use your arms for support. Roll from top of quads to right above knee.
Remember to stop when you feel the sore spot and let the pressure fall in the area for 30-45 seconds.
I had a great butt shot of my daughter and I - but I will spare you that and give you this.
Cross foot over knee and roll in small movements. You can make this more advanced by pulling your knee closer to your chest. Most people would think of this area as the side of the glute or posterior hip.
I like to think of it as 'my butt hurts - I need to roll this out’. Which, by the way, is quite often and tends to help my hip adductors too.
While this looks as a simple fashion pose - it is quite affective and painful. ;) Sheer bliss.
Laying on one side - reach your arm out - thumb pointed up - and roll along your upper arm. Keep in mind - this is not a large area but it feels great after arm day (biceps, triceps, shoulders).
Peek! Found her.
Place the roller parallel to your leg near your groin and roll between the knee and close to the pelvis. You can also bend the knee of the leg you are rolling if it works better (and is sometimes less awkward).
With the roller behind your back and perpendicular, place both feet flat on floor and knees at 90 degrees. You can cross your arms in front of your chest or behind your head. Roll back and forth from your shoulders to mid-back while keeping the hips off the ground.
This is one of my favorites because I also use it to crack my back and roll my lower back. :)
If you are my daughter, you use a foam roller like this:
There are more examples and muscles (especially for runners) that you can find here. For example, you can roll your legs out even more than just the hamstrings and quads.
Key things to remember:
This is an awesome way to 'roll out’ sore muscles and gain flexibility.
If you have a Personal Trainer (like myself) he/she will most likely help you with these techniques or have you lay on a table and do it for you.
This hurts as you are performing it - but your muscles will feel fantastic afterwards. It is quite the better alternative to feeling sore and tight for days and days.
Breathe slowly as you roll.
Remember to roll slowly and stop when you feel sore areas. This seems to be the hardest things for some people to remember.
If you have questions, let me know. There are lots of pictures, descriptions and reasons online but hopefully this was a quick review for you!
For the record, I have to roll out my mother for taking these photos. :)