Do you know how a meat tenderizer works?
You use a meat tenderizer to pound out the toughness of the meat – steak – you want to be a bit more tender. You know it’s tender because it moves easier.
Think of your muscles. You could be perfectly hydrated, but if you don’t stretch or work on mobility, sleep wrong or move just right with added weight – like during a workout, you’re going to end up with little knots or trigger points in your muscles that hinder their movement and could press on a nerve causing numbness or pain.
Enter foam rolling.
Foam rollers are the meat tenderizers with your body being the necessary pressure to pound/roll the toughness – those trigger points – out of your muscles.
The first thing I do after a fire call when I get home is take a hot shower to try to get as many of those little carcinogens off as possible, throw the the clothes worn on that call in the wash, and grab my foam roller. I know the additional weight of my helmet alone is enough to create some trigger points in my neck; add in the weight of the rest of my gear, SCBA, and any equipment I carried or tasks I performed. . . In this case, foam rolling is used as a reaction to possible knots and as a prevention for pain or discomfort that I know will come from ignored trigger points.
A lot of times, I will do foam rolling before a work-out to get the muscles moving better before heavy lifting AND after the work-out to get rid of any knots that may have started to form from that heavy lifting.
So how or what do you foam roll?
I roll out my upper back (thoracic region), quads, hamstrings (sometimes), and IT Bands.
Thoracic (Upper Back Roll): Start with the roller just across your shoulder and roll down til it stops just above the curve of your lower back, then head back up!
I don’t roll out chest muscles, but I do use my foam roller to help stretch them. (Learned this at the chiropractor. . .) Why? Well, all of us have this tendency to slouch or not hold ourselves upright. This causes our chest muscles to “forget” how much they’re supposed to stretch and move which in turn affects the position of the spine, putting unnecessary strain on it.
Lay with the roller running along your spine starting just at the base of your skull, arms out to the side.
And…what if you don’t have a foam roller?
>>> Click HERE for the one I use. Otherwise, keep reading for more information on picking out yours!
You want a high-density foam roller, otherwise they will just squish under your body-weight instead of using your body-weight to massage or roll out those knots!
They come in different sizes too.
There is a 36″ roller that is perfect for rolling and stretching our your back!
The smaller lengths (18″ is the next most common) are better for different mobility exercises for the knees and shoulders.
Foam rolling is a great way to prevent muscle pain and problems down the road, get rid of that muscle stiffness in the morning, and help you get a good night’s sleep!
Want to know more about foam rolling? Not sure about how to roll out your IT Bands or Quads? Have other questions? Click HERE to contact me!