Using your foam roller the right way could improve not only your flexibility, but athletic recovery and relaxation. Utilise the foam roller in the right way with controlled movements, with a neutral spine and normal breathing. Read on to discover 5 ways your foam roller could be more effective.
1. Keep breathing
Breathing activates the sympathetic nervous system. Not breathing at a normal rate sends a message to your brain that there is a threat to your body. Your body reacts by increasing heart rate and blood pressure as well as causing muscles to tighten and constrict — the exact opposite of what we want to happen.
While rolling, breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds approximately. By focusing on your exhalation, you activate the parasympathetic nervous that activates the body’s healing mechanism.
2. Rolling the IT band firmly but not too aggressively
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a fibrous tendon that runs up the outside of your thigh. Often it becomes inflamed after walking, running or hiking downhill. It contains many sensitive nerve structures and does not respond well to heavy, prolonged rolling.
The ITB reacts better to a few quick rolls, with body weight partially supported by your arms and other leg. The fleshy, muscular part of the ITB called the tensor fasciae latae (TFL, which runs up to the front of the hip) can often give you better results, along with rolling the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles.
3. Never roll your lower back
The body contains many joints, each of which has a specific job to do. The lower back is generally designed to be a strong core from which other body movements can take place. There is no need to roll the lower back, as true stiffness is rarely the problem. More commonly the hips and upper back are tight, which then leads to compression through the lumbar spine.
4. Neutral Spine
Foam rolling involves lots of different positions. Body awareness and good core stability are important to ensure you don’t injure yourself. In general, try and maintain a neutral spinal zone.
5. Controlled movements
Slow, focused rolling is better for big muscles like the quads, hamstring and calves. Pay attention to your body and if you come across any particularly tight areas you can hold the pressure there for up to 30 seconds, as the muscle slowly releases. If the muscle doesn’t release or you feel any unusual symptoms like pins and needles, it may mean you are compressing a nerve.
Please consult with your health care professional for further advice. If you are interested in purchasing a foam roller, please visit our shop for recommended products.