You get to the gym, set your bag down, pull out a foam roller, and proceed to haphazardly roll around on it while checking instagram. Yes, we all do it.
Most of us have come to understand the importance of body maintenance and soft tissue work, however it’s still hard to determine what exactly we should be doing to get the most benefit out of our time. Is our pre WOD social media/foam roll around session good enough? What type of foam roller should I be using? If I’m going to spend time rolling out when is it best to do it? Here are some answers to those questions.
How Much Rolling?
This is entirely dependent on the athlete. If you are naturally good at maintaining positions during your workouts and don’t feel stiff or that you lack range of motion, then perhaps a few minutes on the foam roller to loosen and warm up the outer layers of fascia is all you need. If you are the opposite and have pain in one or several places, you should be spending time on those problem areas until the pain is resolved and range of motion is acquired.
What Type of Foam Roller?
There are several types of foam rollers on the market and they all (mostly) have their place. For base level tissue maintenance, again the type that just generally loosens and warms the skin/muscle, a softer foam roller is fine. Something like one of these:
To make actual change in regards to stiff tissues you’ll want something a lot harder and probably with a varying gradient to be able to work itself into the deeper layers of muscle. Something along the lines of this:
When To Roll:
If you are in pain, you need to get out of pain and should roll out and resolve your issues as soon as possible. On the other hand if you are purely trying to gain more range of motion, or just loosen up stiff tissues, then it’s recommended to do foam rolling or any sort of soft tissue work post workout or at least a few hours before you train. Just like a massage, foam rolling relaxes the muscles, which is great, but not what you want right before a workout!