I know what you’re thinking. Not another fitness fad to add into my regimen. Believe me, I would have agreed with you initially. However, the more I practice, the more I’ve found just how much stretching can play an important role in the rehab process. From preventing injuries1 to reducing muscle soreness, stretching has incredible benefits that can easily be incorporated into your workout routine. Foam rolling (a form of self myofascial release, i.e. a way to provide a self massage of sorts) has demonstrated excellent benefits including:
- Increased flexibility/range of motion (ROM)2
- Decreased post-workout muscle soreness3,4
- Decreased post-exercise fatigue3,4
- Improved vascular function5
- Greater improvements in ROM in combination with static stretching6,7
Greater ROM in turn leads to:
- Reducing musculotendinous injuries8,9,10
- Potentially reducing risk of falls11
Here’s a quick foam rolling routine that you can incorporate into any post-exercise activity:
It is recommended that you perform 1 minute durations at each segment with a strong but comfortable pressure, post exercise, to aid in recovery.6 If tenderpoints are found within the muscles, pressure can be applied for 30s up to 2 minute durations until the tenderpoint appears to “melt” away.
Foam Rolling Workout
Using your arms to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down your calf muscle making sure to focus on the inside and outside of your calf (not just the middle) in order to target both the medial and lateral portions of the muscle.
Place both hamstring muscles (the muscle between the hip and knee) on the foam roller.
Using your arms to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down the length of the muscle making sure to focus on the inside and outside of your hamstrings (not just the middle) in order to target both heads of the muscle.
Sit on the foam roll with one knee bent, and ankle crossed over opposite knee (this gives an added stretch to your hip rotator muscle.
Using your arms to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down the length of your glutes.
Lie on your side with the foam roller placed beneath the outside of your thigh (may bend other knee to prevent rolling off of foam).
Using your arms to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down the length of the muscle, from knee to hip bone
This area tends to be extra tender, especially in athletes, so if lying on your side provides too much pressure perform standing against wall and rolling the foam up/down the length of the outside thigh.
Place both quad muscles (the muscle on the front of the thigh, between the hip and knee) on the foam roller.
Using your elbows to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down the length of the muscle making sure to focus on the inside and outside of your quads (not just the middle) in order to target all 4 muscles of the quad.
Lying on your side, place the foam roller just below your armpit
Using your hips to hold your body weight, roll the foam up and down the length of the muscle (just below and just above the armpit)
Chest Muscles: Pec minor/Pec Major*
*Extend arms out to side or in a Y position
Place the foam roller along the length of your spine and rest your head at the top of the roller
Making a “snow angel” with your arms, find the position where you feel the most stretch (comfortable, not painful)
Using your feet to hold your body weight, allow your extended arms to hang down towards the floor
Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Macdonald GZ, Button DC, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG. Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Jan;46(1):131-42. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a123db.
Healey KC, Hatfield DL, Blanpied P, Dorfman LR, Riebe D. The effects of myofascial release with foam rolling on performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jan;28(1):61-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182956569.
Schroeder AN, Best TM. Is self myofascial release an effective preexercise and recovery strategy? A literature review. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015 May-Jun;14(3):200-8. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000148.
Okamoto T, Masuhara M, Ikuta K. Acute effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on arterial function. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jan;28(1):69-73. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31829480f5.
Mohr AR, Long BC, Goad CL. Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion. J Sport Rehabil. 2014 Nov;23(4):296-9. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2013-0025. Epub 2014 Jan 21.
Škarabot J, Beardsley C, Štirn I. Comparing the effects of self-myofascial release with static stretching on ankle range-of-motion in adolescent athletes. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Apr;10(2):203-12.
Amako M, Oda T, Masuoka K, et al. Effect of static stretching on prevention of injuries for military recruits. Mil Med 2003; 168 (6): 442-6
Pope RP, Herbert RD, Kirwan JD, et al. A randomized trial of preexercise stretching for prevention of lower-limb injury. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000; 32 (2): 271-7
Hartig DE, Henderson JM. Increasing hamstring flexibility de- creases lower extremity overuse injuries in military basic trainees. Am J Sports Med 1999; 27 (2): 173-6
Nodehi-Moghadam A, Taghipour M, Goghatin Alibazi R, Baharlouei H. The comparison of spinal curves and hip and ankle range of motions between old and young persons. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2014 Jul 21;28:74. eCollection 2014.