Foam rolling for runners is a great way to ensure your muscles are prepared for a run or have recovered properly after a run. Foam rolling is an SMR (self myofascial release) technique that aids in recovery of muscles that are subjected to being over reactive, by increasing blood flow to these tissues. A foam roller simply supplements the work of a specialist who deals with deep body tissues; including a physical therapist. The SMR techniques through foam rolling are done by rolling the foam roller under each muscle group until the fascia is reached while applying little body pressure. Fascia is a soft tissue portion located in the connective tissue of the muscle that provides support.
Runners and their coach foam roll for many reasons, mainly because fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can get stuck together causing an adhesion. Adhesions lead to restriction in movement of muscles which in turn reduces flexibility, muscle efficiency and gradual injuries. SMR technique breaks up knots and increases blood circulation into the muscle tissues. When foam rolling, runners need to pay close attention to the following regions.
- Feet- this is done by placing one foot on the foam roller and then applying pressure as you roll your feet slowly from heel to toe. This ensures your ankle and foot is mobile. Blood also flows into the muscles at the base of our feet preventing them from sticking together causing kinks and knots.
- Quadriceps – this is done by rolling the foam roller on your quadriceps as you lie on the foam roller.
- Adductors- this are muscle groups contained in the inner thigh. They get extremely tight in athletes hence they require more attention. One should lie on the face down position turning one leg out and placing the foam roller on the inner thigh. Then apply pressure as you roll from the groin towards your knee.
- Hamstrings- these muscles need to be kept flexible as tight hamstrings can lead to unnecessary back pain. This is done by sitting on the foam roller with ones legs outstretched, while your hands are placed at the back as support. Roll from behind your knee to the point just at the base of your glutes.
- TFL and Iliotibial Band- lack of good care to these muscles lead to iliotibial syndrome. One should lie with the outer thigh on the foam roller and place the other leg crossing over as you rest on your fore arm. Then roll up towards the hip applying little pressure.
- Glutes and piriformis- glutes muscles once properly engaged improves an athlete’s stability and power hence the need to foam roll. One should sit on the foam roller leaning slightly on one side while crossing the other leg over the knee and apply little pressure.
It is clear that there is need for runners to foam roll as they need to keep their muscles flexible enough for speed, stability and power. However, while foam rolling, runners should avoid making mistakes such as;
- Rolling immediately after feeling pain in an injured area.
- Rolling too fast and failing to apply enough pressure to get rid of knots.
- Spending much time working on the same area
- Foam rolling in a bad posture.
In conclusion, every runner should be using the foam rolling technique to get all the benefits it has to offer. Through proper circulation of blood to your muscles, you are able to maintain healthy muscles that will contribute to your success as a runner. There is no doubt that foam rolling is beneficial to runners of all levels.