I've heard a lot about foam rolling, but I find some of the information confusing. When is the best time to use a foam roller? I will often complete a run, do a cool down walk for about 10 minutes and then immediately foam roll when I arrive home. After sitting down, I will feel a soreness return to my hips and then I will foam roll again before going to bed. I wonder if I should just wait until before bedtime, because I have also read that too much foam rolling can be bad for your muscles.
The benefits of foam rollers for our sore muscles are almost endless. You can use it on almost every muscle of your body, from your calves, all the way up to your shoulders. Using a foam roller the correct way and at the right time are important and will give you the most benefit from rolling.
It is true that foam rolling too much can be bad. A three-minute to five-minute session of foam rolling will give you the maximum benefit out of your foam roller. Do this no more than twice a day on the same area.
Some athletes like to foam roll before and after a workout while some forget to do it at all. If you are dealing with an injury, you should foam roll before and after your workout. When uninjured, rolling out after your cool down is sufficient.
One area most athletes can stand to gain more insight is how to properly foam roll. The goal of foam rolling and massage is to loosen up tight muscles, break up scar tissue and release tightness in the fascia. It's important to determine what the cause of pain is though. Often times the root cause of an injury or painful area is not at the site of the pain. For example, you may have knee pain that is caused by tight fascia around the IT band which is preventing your knee from tracking properly.
The coaching staff at Fleet Feet Sports has tried countless products for rolling and massage. And since we are not just coaches, but also runners who get injured and use foam rollers and massage products to stay healthy and treat injuries, there are a few we recommend.