I was surprised when my physical therapist told me after assessing my flexibility that I was one of the least flexible patients she had ever worked with. What?! I used to be the sit and reach champion in middle school P.E.! It turns out, even though there are many benefits of running, one of the negative side effects is: it can cause the muscles in the legs to tighten or lead to inflexibility.
Luckily if you incorporate stretching and foam rolling into your weekly routine, it can help combat tight and fatigued muscles running and working out can cause. While stretching helps lengthen the muscle, foam rolling massages muscles intensely in addition to lengthening and elongating muscles. Basically the foam roller acts as your own personal masseuse without the cost.
Benefits to foam rolling are:
- It helps prevent common injuries. One of the most important reasons for a regular foam-rolling routine is to prevent common exercise-related injuries.
- It helps you destress. I often get tight neck and back muscles from tensing due to stress. Foam rolling those ‘hot spots’ helps me relax both physically and mentally.
- It keeps you flexible. Running can cause your muscles to tighten, which left unchecked can lead to injuries. Use the foam roller to combat those tight muscles and keep you flexible.
Here are some tips on how to use the foam roller:
- The iliotibial band, the band that runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee, is one area of the body most susceptible to injury for runners. Roll the foam roller on the side of the leg, slowly back and forth toward the top of the leg, particularly on the quad, where it meets the IT band. This helps to increase blood flow and circulation, aiding healing and preventing injury.
- By using your own body weight and a foam roller, you can perform a self-massage on your calves, quads, hamstrings, back, and glutes. This can lead to improved range of motion, flexibility and movement and workouts, along with increased blood flow.
- When foam rolling a targeted muscle, you can choose to roll both legs at once, or target one leg at a time (my preference).
- For more tips, check out this link and click on the tutorial video below:
I stumbled across this analogy and think it’s a great way to view the benefits of foam rolling: Think of it like brushing your hair. When you don’t brush regularly, it becomes tangled and knotted. When you keep a routine and brush your hair frequently, you can avoid that. Foam rolling is the same concept, and you just need to do it regularly to take advantage of all its benefits.
It can be overwhelming when you research buying different rollers and every runner has their own preference but my two favorites are the Trigger Point and The Marathon Stick. Have you incorporated foam rolling into your routine? If so, let us know which roller is your favorite.
Never Give Up,