In a recent Facebook post I went into some detail about a basic Self Myofascial Release (SMR aka. Foam Rolling) routine. I felt that I left a few stones unturned, so I decided to go into further detail here on the Hash Fitness Blog.
Foam Rolling Routine Video <<Video>>
Self Myofascial Release (SMR) is an excellent way to restore movement in tight, matted down muscles. If you have any experience exercising or playing sports, you know that within 48 hours after activity you're likely to have some soreness develop. Instead of sitting around and waiting for that soreness to dissipate naturally, self myofascial release techniques, such as foam rolling, offer a more aggressive recovery approach.
General Guidelines: In order to get the most out of your SMR session, make sure that you move slowly and deliberately move over each of the muscle groups. For some muscle groups that are extra tight, it may be helpful to add movement like shown in the video for the Quads, IT Band, and Groin. For smaller muscle groups/body regions such as the foot, rotator cuff, and chest, a more focal approach may be more appropriate. In this case a lacrosse ball or tennis ball is a serviceable tool.
Complete Video Guide: <<Video Link>>
1) Bottom of Foot- Yes seriously! It may strike you as an odd place to foam roll (or lax ball roll) but if you think about it, the feet take more abuse than any other area of your body. It is important to keep the fascia on the bottom of the feet from getting overly tight. Most of you, I'm sure, have heard of Plantar Fasciitis--which is the inflammation of the Plantar Fascia on the bottom of the foot. Using SMR techniques on this fascia could decrease the amount of swelling and general tightness in the area. For this area, roll for 1-2 minutes up and down the foot.
2) Calf- When foam rolling the calf, cross one leg over the other. This will allow you to target each calf individually and create more pressure with the weight of one leg pushing down on top of the other. Foam rolling is all about how much pressure is placed on the muscle or fascia. Make sure that you are hitting all parts of the calf. For the calf I like to make 3-5 passes on the outside of the calf, straight down the middle, and then on the inside as well.
3) Hamstrings- Similar to the calf, I prefer to work the Hamstrings individually, with one foot crossed over the other. Rolling both legs at the same time simply does not allow you to create enough pressure for the exercise to be effective. Make 10 passes up and down each leg, moving at a rate of 1 inch per second.
4) Glutes- The glutes are another group of muscles that are best worked unilaterally, or one side at a time. Position yourself on the foam roller in a fashion that will create the greatest amount of pressure, as shown in the video and make 10 passes on each glute.
5) IT Band- This one hurts just thinking about it! This is generally the area that causes folks the greatest amount of discomfort so, although it's going to suck, do not skip it! Make 10 passes up and down each side, locate the most tender areas, and then add movement (flex and extend your knee) while holding on that area. Perform 5-10 reps of movement and then move to the next tender area where the same process will be repeated.
6) Quads- Stack one leg on top of the other and roll one side at a time. Similar to the IT Band, make 10 passes up and down each leg, locating the most tender areas. Perform 5-10 reps of movement on each tender area.
7) Groin- Position yourself so that the foam roller is able to move up and down the inside of your leg. Then as performed with the previous two areas, make 10 passes on the inside of your leg, locating the tight spots and then perform 5-10 reps of movement on them.
8) Lats- The first of the two upper body regions that I included in the video are the Lats. Lay on your side, and position your feet so that you are able to move yourself up and down. Perform 10 passes up and down each lat.
9) Upper Back- Lay on the foam roller and cross your arms almost as if you're trying to push yourself into the foam roller. This allows you to create a little added pressure. If that isn't enough pressure, you could place a weight plate on your chest (please be careful). Roll up and down the upper back 10 times.
These are not the only muscles that you can foam roll but it is a good routine to get you started. Stretching and foam rolling are what I call the "non-sexy" side of fitness. No one is ever going to ask you, "Bro how much do you foam roll?" However, it could be the difference in between getting injured and staying pain free. So dedicate a few minutes at the end of your workout or when you get home to foam roll!
Where to get a foam roller: Foam rollers are fairly inexpensive and could be purchased online for as cheap as twenty dollars. If that is not a suitable option, lacrosse balls (or any small-hard ball), medicine balls, barbells, and PVC pipes work great too!
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