Foam rolling can be done before and after a workout. The main purposes of foam rolling include:
- Improved circulation
- Injury prevention
- Breaking up of "knots"
- Muscle tightness
- Identified soreness (which is a sign of poor circulation)
When foam rolling you can use an actual foam roller, tennis ball or lacrosse ball. I would recommend using a combination of both. Foam rollers generally come in 3 different colors to represent 3 different densities white being low density, blue being of medium density and black being of high density. Tennis balls and lacrosse balls will dig in a little deeper and help break up knots that cannot be reached with foam roller. When first starting a tennis ball, that has more "give" than a lacrosse ball, is a good place to start. If you are willing to make the investment, you can also look into a Rumble Roller which is AMAZING! The rumble roller is a foam roller with little nubs all over it, so it's like getting a lacrosse ball and foam roller in one!
So without further adieu, here is how you perform self-myofacial release:
1. Start by searching the tissues for tenderness. If tenderness is identified, hold foam roll on the "hot-spot" for 10-12 sec. Repeat by coming back to area 3-5 times or until tenderness has subsided.
2. If tenderness is too much to handle you can stop, use a lower density device or if you are able, put less body weight on the device
3. If no tenderness is identified while SLOW rolling, continue in a smooth rhythmical manner. Be sure to roll the entire length of the muscle when using a foam roller.
4. Maintain a tight stomach by pulling the belly button back towards the spine.
5. Do not perform under the following conditions:
- Feelings of nausea
- Acute rheumatoid arthritis
- Painful varicose veins
6. You can perform SMR massage 1-2 x daily.
Here are some pictures on foam rolling your different muscles. However, the picture showing the piriformis rolling, should have you leaning to the side of the leg up i.e since the pictured man has his left leg up he should be leaning to his left side. Also, remember that rolling your hamstrings with a ball will be much more effective than with rolling with a foam roller.
Enjoy the massage!