Fiona McMahon DPT,
Foam rolling. I certainly have a love hate relationship with my foam roller. My IT bands (the tissue on the side of your leg) hate it, but I love how it keeps my knees and joints happy. Foam rolling is a method to release knots in muscle and improve the mobility of tight muscles and joints. If you are a gym rat, runner, or athlete of any kind, consider giving foam rolling a try. In a review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy in 2015, foam rolling was shown to reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and temporarily increase range of motion.
First of choose your weapon…. I mean roller.
White roller: Great for starters: gentle, but can deform over time because it is softer.
Black roller: This roller is not for the faint of heart, it’s the toughest one of the bunch. It’s not a great place to start, nor is it good if you bruise easily, but for the foam roller aficionados out there, it is really great for a tight IT band and hamstring.
Grey roller: This is a nice in between roller for those of us who need a little more than the white roller, but aren’t quite ready for the black one. It is actually a composite of both rollers.
Artisanal Foam Roller: This one retails for about 120$ on Amazon and is good if you are super fancy. I haven’t tried it because I’m not very fancy.
The Stick and other hand rollers:
This one is good for those who travel often, because it occupies relatively low amounts of space in carry-on luggage. It is also great for people with tight inner thighs and tightness closer to the pelvic bone, which can be difficult to get to using regular foam rollers. Retail names include: “The stick”, “the tiger tail”, and others.
There are other rollers that come in a variety of fun colors and designs. These rollers are less standardized so you may want to experiment if you feel like opting for one of the less classic varieties.
Now that you’ve picked your roller, let’s get rolling!
When foam rolling, you can adjust the weight you place on the roller by reducing the amount of support you give yourself. The more of your body weight you put on the foam roller, the more intense it will be. If you find a particularly tender part oscillate your body on that spot to facilitate release. In addition, you can flex and straighten the area that you are working on to help with additional lengthening of the tissue. Attempt 10-15 passes for each body part to help improve your function and tissue mobility.
ITB band rolling
Adductor rolling with stick
Cheatham S, Kobler M, Cain M, et al. The effect of self-myofascial release using foam roller or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Nov;10(6):827-38