When I mention foam rolling to people I usually get:

  • a quizzical look
  • a grimace
  • or a smiley ‘yeah, I know what you mean, it’s ace’ look

I’m in the ‘yeah, I know what you mean, it’s ace’ camp.

When you know how to do it, then it feels all sorts of GOOOOOD 🙂

The secret is to start off easy using your upper body to slowly ease your bodyweight down onto the roller, then work into it. When done like this, you can almost class it as an upper body and core workout – it certainly uses them.

The slowly easing your bodyweight on to the roller is like when I massage.  If I was to go straight in with my thumbs and push down really hard on a muscle then chances are you’d shoot straight off the table and through the wall.

We need to ease the muscles into relaxation and then add some pressure.

(and yes, I know I’ll have some clients who still think that when I get to the deep thumb section of a sports massage, they’d rather be out the door than on the table – they all admit they feel much better afterwards).

Below are photos and a video on how to use the foam roller as a pre-run warm up and how to do a post run stretch and deal with tight spots.

Warm up rolling

The aim is to roll a couple of times over the muscles that you’re going to use when you run – the calves, achilles, hamstrings, butt, quads, lower leg (tibialis anterior). Combine these with your running warm up drills and you’re ready to go.

warm-up-foam-roll-1 warm-up-roll-2

Post run stretch rolling 

Start as above with the warm up rolling then increase the weight load by putting one leg on top of the other – continuing to roll.  Take note of any spot that may be feeling particularly tight and at the end of the increased load roll, go back and add some more intensity by moving into a slow stretch of that area.