Ever wished you had a massage therapist on hand after a long run? Endurance sports like distance running place sustained strain on our muscles, which often leads to long recovery periods which keep us out of exercise and slow our progress. This article takes a look at how foam rollers can reduce recovery time, the types of foam rollers available, and a few benefits of foam rolling as a runner.
Using Foam Rollers as a Runner
New to the amazing world of foam rolling? We’re going to recommend getting yourself a foam roller that’s on the softer side of the density spectrum and that’s at least 60 centimetres in length. Don’t let the YouTube videos convince you that you need a foam roller with more knobbles than an off road bike tyre. A smooth-surfaced one will do you just fine as a runner. Here’s how to use a foam roller:
- Position your foam roller horizontally on the floor in front of you. Make sure that you sit down in front of it
- Place the limb, which has the muscle group you want to target, on the top of the foam roller. Position the roller away from the tender spot.
- Slowly reposition your body to apply pressure on the foam roller. Move your limb over the roller’s surface as the pressure passes over the point of tension.
- Once passing the pain spot, slowly reverse the motion until you reach the starting position.
A Runner’s Benefits of Foam Rolling
Runners should ideally be foam rolling both before and after hitting the tarmac. A pre-run foam rolling will loosen the muscles up and is superb as a warm-up. Foam rolling post-exercise will ensure that any knots or other adhesions are broken up and will greatly reduce down-time between runs. Here are the major benefits of foam rolling as a runner:
- Improved range of motion, flexibility and movement,
- Breaks apart knots and smooths muscles,
- Quickly returns muscles to normal functioning,
- Increases blood flow to targeted muscles, and
- Offers a deep-tissue massage without the price tag!
Foam Rolling Your Calves:
- Sit on the floor with your foam roller between your legs. Position it underneath the Achilles tendon of your right leg.
- Put your hands flat on the floor at your sides and raise your bottom off the ground.
- Roll your leg forwards slowly, until the foam roller reaches behind your knee. Reverse the motion until the foam roller makes it back to your ankle area.
- Turn your toes inwards to target your inner calf muscles. Repeat the rolling five times, then swap legs.
Foam Rolling Your Quads:
- Lie face down on the floor with your foam roller at your side. Position it just above the knee underneath your right leg, making sure not to push it too far over to the other leg.
- Support your upper body with your hands out front, as if in a lowered push-up position.
- Slowly push yourself backwards, allowing the foam roller to move from your knee to your groin.
- Again, turning your toes inwards and repositioning your legs on the roller will award you access to other muscle groups. Repeat the above rolling five times, then swap legs.
As can be seen from the above, using foam rollers allows runners the ability to work out tension in the muscles that have been worked out during their run. As a foam roller isn’t that expensive, and doesn’t take up a lot of space, it can be stored at home and taken out for use at the end of a run.
Want to learn more about how to use a foam roller? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Online Foam Rolling Course will teach you everything that you need to know about how to use a foam roller correctly. For more information and to register, visit our website.