The Who, What, Where and When of FOAM ROLLING your Lower Body

Written By: Coach Maleia Tumolo

Let’s talk about the basics and importance of foam rolling. 

Foam rolling is something a lot of athletes know they should do.  “Some” athletes use a foam roller on a regular basis but let us be honest, most runners don’t use one often or at all and would benefit from regular use.

Foam rollers come in different sizes and lengths.  Some are smooth and some have ridges. Some are hard and some soft.   Honestly, just a basic foam roller is all you need in order to reap the benefits associated with using one regularly. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can purchase one for as little as $15.00.

The importance of foam rolling is simple. It aids in recovery and helps prevent injuries.  Basically, a foam roller acts as a way for you to massage yourself by breaking down adhesions between the muscles and increasing  blood flow to the area. It also helps speed up recovery, decrease muscle soreness and increase flexibility. 

The great thing about foam rolling is that you can control the intensity by adjusting the pressure and/or body position and the speed of rolling.

Your goal is to find areas of discomfort. Once you find these areas, you should stop/slow down and put pressure to release the knot.  You can also manipulate the area by adding in other movements such as ankle circles, flexing and extending appendages, contracting and relaxing muscles, and using small lateral movements across the knot to help break up the problem area. 

When should you foam roll?  After workouts and on your days off are your best options.  You will want shorter sessions on multiple days. Instead of one long session once a week.  Just like everything else you can roll too much so four 15 minutes sessions 4 times a week is much easier on your body then one 1-hour session on a Sunday.   You will want to take your time while rolling. Focus on what you are doing and try to stay in tune with how your body is feeling so that you can find those problem areas.  Roll one area at a time and do 2-3 minutes on each body part.  Stick to only rolling the belly of the muscle and be cautious of your ligament and tendons. 

Check out the video below to see a video of a basic lower body foam rolling routine any athlete can do. 

These areas include:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • IT-bands
  • Quads
  • Shins
  • Lower back

Video: Intro to Foam Rolling