By now you’ve heard about foam rolling, if not from me then from someone else. And if you somehow have made it this far without ever hearing about it, here is a super quick crash course complete with a video on the three foam roller exercises you should be doing every day.
We all experience tension in our bodies whether it be from working at a desk, on an assembly line, exercise, sitting a certain way, from previous injuries, etc. When we experience chronic tension or tightness, adhesions form on muscles, tendons and ligaments which can cause circulatory issues, pain, limit range of motion and cause inflammation. Stretching cannot break up these adhesions, you need deep tissue work to break them up.
Most of us don’t have the funds or the time to go for daily deep tissue massages. At least I don’t! That’s why a foam roller can be your best friend. For a one-time investment that is less than one trip to the masseuse, you can buy a foam roller that will be able to start breaking up those adhesions and return circulation the affected areas right from the comfort of your home.
Now I won’t lie to you, deep tissue massage whether from a set of skilled hands or a foam roller is not a relaxing zen-like experience. It flipping hurts. Especially at first when those areas are so inflamed and sore to the touch. But the goods news is that like with the foot relfexology which I wrote about last week, it takes only a few sessions for the pain to begin to lesson.
In a perfect world we would all have time to spend a good half an hour or so foam rolling each day after a nice walk or workout to help break up those adhesions and prevent new ones from forming while providing the rest of our muscles with a nice relaxing message – but in case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t live in a perfect world. That is why today I want to show you the three foam roller exercises you can should be doing everyday, and they will take a total of about 10 minutes to do – so you can easily fit this in during commercial breaks of a 30-minute TV show.
(click the image from your desktop to pin for later)
I’ve chosen these three exercises based on my experience both personally and as a trainer as the foam roller exercises that are the most needed for the majority of the people I’ve coached.
In case you are wondering why you should listen to me, I completed a self-myofascial release programming course a few years ago so I do have professional training on this subject.
Those three areas are the back, the ITB and the glutes.
Does it matter what kind of foam roller you use? Yes and no. If you are just starting out and have never foam rolled before, grabbing one of the less expensive foam rollers is a good place to start. The problem with those, is they are made of a lower density foam so over time will start to warp. My first foam roller now is compressed in the middle making look more like an hour-glass than a cylinder.
My first foam roller and I having some quality time after a long run
What’s more, those less expensive rollers tend to be perfectly flat on the surface. You might wonder why that matters, well when you are foam rolling, remember you are working adhesions to improve blood flow. Yet when foam rolling with a roller that is flat on the surface, you are actually slowing blood flow even more as you “mush” (a very technical term there, haha) the foam roller into your muscles. When you use a foam roller with grooves and channels like the Trigger Point GRID, there are always areas where the blood can continue to flow and circulate while you are working. That makes it more effective, and the grooves and channels on the GRID are strategically placed to better mimic an actual massage.
The long narrow sections are there to mimic fingers, the wider section the palm, and in small squares you cannot see in the above photo mimic fingertips.
At this point is should come as no surprise that I highly recommend Trigger Point’s GRID Foam Rollers. I’ve had the original GRID for quite a while and love it so much. I had learned about the GRID at a fitness conference years ago, but never had the opportunity to try – and feel the difference – until I bought my own. The difference between it and my old foam roller is like the difference between night and day. It is so far superior I cannot even believe it.
And then last month Trigger Point sent me the new GRID X (pictured above) which is twice as firm as the original. Oh my gosh, once again – the difference is unbelievable. The GRID X is definitely a much firmer roller, and for that reason I would suggest starting out with the original GRID before upping the intensity.
Starting out you are going to find foam rolling painful to begin with as you first start to break up those adhesions, so you’ll want to do it with a less dense roller. Once you’ve worked out those initial areas and are starting to feel a bit better when rolling, then I would recommend moving up to the GRID X if you want to increase the intensity level.
In today’s video I’m going to be using the GRID X to demonstrate the three exercises, but the exercises will be the same regardless of which roller you choose to use.
It’s really important to remember to breathe while on your foam roller – resist the urge to hold your breathe! And if you find a spot that is really, really sore, only stay there for a couple of seconds. Each time you roll it will get a little bit less sore and you’ll be able to stay there longer. And finally, make sure you can recognize the difference between muscular pain and mechanical pain. When using your foam roller you should expect muscular pain, but if the pain feels like it might be mechanical, stop what you are doing and be sure to consult a health care professional before returning to foam rolling!
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- Trigger Point GRID: http://amzn.to/1VCmwOn
- Trigger Point GRID X (the extra firm one) : http://amzn.to/20XYKvm
Disclosure: Trigger Point sent me with the GRID X foam roller free of charge, but I purchased the GRID with my own money and truly recommend Trigger Point rollers over others on the market. This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through one of these links you are helping to support this site – thank you!