Foam Rolling 101

Updated: Jan 29

Today we’re talking about the health benefits of foam rolling

& how to do it.


There isn't a person I know who doesn't suffer from some sort of physical discomfort or pain, including myself. Foam rolling is a wonderful natural technique that helps to reduce pain and inflammation.

I'm a strong advocate of using food, plants, nature, yoga, meditation and alternative methods to relieve physical discomfort before considering over-the-counter products. It's important to consider natural approaches because there are a lot of negative effects associated with over-the-counter products.

Before modern medicine, people only had alternative therapies, like plants, to heal. Archeological excavations suggest that humans have used plants as medicine for as long as we've existed. I trust there is validity in the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors acquired over thousands of years.


By no means am I dismissing the necessity for medication. For example, we all know how well antibiotics work when we need them. When possible and feasible though, give your body the chance to heal itself.



Several years ago, I learned to fully believe in my body's capability to heal itself. I was in a serious car accident and was told by 3 neurosurgeons that I needed a plate in my neck. This would mean I wouldn't be able to continue running, biking or swimming to the degree I enjoyed. My instinct was telling me to give my body a chance to heal before considering surgery.

I listened- and I was so happy I did. It wasn't easy. I spent a lot of time on the couch, then in physical therapy. Eventually though, I was walking and then running again.


Within 5 years, I went on to run the Boston marathon and compete in half-ironman races

I now do what I can to help my body heal without medication and as little intervention as possible.


ALTERNATIVE NATURAL THERAPIES Here's a list of alternative therapies I've used just this past year to help lower inflammation and physical pain.

  • acupuncture

  • active release therapy

  • cryotherapy

  • cold laser therapy

  • massage (deep tissue, lymphatic, Thai)

  • sauna (infrared and dry)

  • essential oils

  • foam rolling

  • yoga

  • meditation

  • herbs / food


Foam rolling is a technique I use daily along with essential oils to help release tension in my muscles, relieve muscle soreness and improve flexibility and range of motion. And you don't have to be an athlete to reap the benefits of foam rolling. Once you incorporate foam rolling into your life, you’ll notice huge improvements in pain reduction and range of motion. Foam rolling also helps to prevent injuries. Before foam rolling, I used NSAIDS to help ease inflammation and pain. It did a number on my stomach and to this day I can't use a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. As the osteoarthritis in my knees got worse, I then turned to synvisc injections in my knees. They were painful, costly and definitely a short-term solution.


With regular foam rolling, the pain in my knees subsided.



I now run pain free – no more injections, no anti-inflammatories!!!!!!

You can foam roll before exercise, after exercise, before going to bed – whenever you can fit it into your life. Doing it is what makes the difference. Aim to foam roll once a day for a total of 5 minutes. I foam roll after a workout, as part of my cool down.



It does hurt, but it will get easier and in the end the discomfort is worth the gains. The more uncomfortable an area feels, the more it needs to be massaged. Try to hold on to a sore spots for 30 to 90 seconds until you feel the release before moving on.


It’s the next best thing to having a professional masseuse right in your home.

HOW TO FOAM ROLL


Use a stopwatch or timer and work on each muscle group from 30 to 90 seconds.


QUAD / HIP FLEXOR

Lie face-down with your foam roller under one thigh. Start at the hip and roll down toward the knee. Spend 60 seconds on each quad. Don’t roll over your knee joint.


INSIDE OF THIGH

Lie face-down on the ground and bend the leg you are working on. The other leg is off to the side. Roll from your pelvis down to your knee. Spend at least 60 seconds on each side and spend extra time on the sore spots.


IT BAND / SIDE OF LEG

If you run or bike, you’ll want to spend extra time rolling down and up the outside of your thigh. Lie on your side and place your foam roller under you. Top leg will be bent with the foot on the floor. Start near the hip and roll down toward your knee, stopping before the joint. Try to maintain as much body weight as possible on the roller.


PIRIFORMIS / GLUTE

Sit on the roller and place your arms behind you with palms on floor. Cross your foot over the glute that is being massaged. Roll over the glute area and when you find a trigger point spend extra time on the spot.


HAMSTRINGS

Sit on the ground with your roller under the back of one thigh and the other leg crossed over it. Roll up and down your leg for 30 to 90 seconds, then switch legs.


MID AND UPPER BACK

Lie face-up on the ground and place your roller under your mid-back. Support your head with your hands. Roll from your shoulders down to the middle of your back for 30 to 90 seconds, then move to the other side.


If you’re feeling stressed, try foam rolling right before getting into bed.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.



Let me know in the comment section if you are a foam roller and how it has helped you!