Foam Rolling | Tips and Tricks

by | Nov 15, 2021 | Physical Training, Tips & Tricks

Foam Rolling

Welcome to the Fitness Adaptive live podcast! Today, we’ll talk about foam rolling. First, let me share an experience. When I was in junior high and high school, I played various sports, mainly track and cross-country, and I took several P.E. classes. I wanted to improve my athletic abilities and learn as much as possible. I had many different coaches and trainers through junior high and high school. I also trained after high school with different personal trainers. 

 

Each of my coaches taught me different ways to do different types of exercises, warmups, cooldowns, and stretches. I often wondered, “What is the proper way to do these things?” After high school, I signed up for a few personal trainers at a gym and started studying fitness. During my experience and studies, I came across a crucial element to fitness that most athletes, coaches, and trainers are neglecting: foam-rolling. 

Why should I foam roll?

The purpose of foam rolling is to decrease muscle density and loosen the muscles. Foam rolling is a form of massage. It penetrates the muscles, and works out knots, reducing the risk of injury. You perform better on loose muscles. Having tight muscles increases the risk of injury. Foam rolling decreases muscle density, so it should be the first thing you do to warm up. 

 

When should I foam roll? 

A common misconception is that you should stretch first in the warmup process, before foam rolling. This is a myth. To explain the concept of stretching first, without foam rolling, picture a band with a knot in it. When you stretch that band on both sides, what happens to the knot? It gets tighter. The more you stretch it, the tighter it gets. The tighter it gets, the harder it is to undo that knot. This is why foam rolling should be first, and stretching second. You should also foam roll when you have tight muscles, muscle knots, or muscle cramps. You should foam roll those muscles to decrease density and loosen them up; then stretch them. This will lengthen the muscle and improve your range of motion.

 

The Foam Rolling Recipe: How to Foam Roll

To explain foam rolling–when you should roll, how long you should roll, and why you should roll first–think of a recipe. A recipe calls for certain ingredients, and steps to complete the dish. If you change the order of steps, the recipe doesn’t work the same. If you add more or less of an ingredient or take an ingredient out, the dish won’t turn out. A recipe has specific ingredients, amounts of ingredients, and steps. You can’t disregard the recipe and expect it to turn out the way it’s supposed to. 

 

The process of warming up and cooling down has to be done in a specific way to maximize performance and minimize injury, just as a recipe needs to be followed to make a dish. Foam rolling should be your first ingredient in a warmup. Your muscles need to decrease in density and become loose, so you can stretch them. Having tight muscles increases your risk of injury, so starting with them loose is ideal. 

 

The Math of Foam Rolling: How Long to Foam Roll

 

Here is another example: If you want to learn math, you will start with addition and subtraction. Then you’ll learn about division and multiplication. Eventually, you’ll progress to algebra. Once there, you can move onto trigonometry, calculus, or statistics. You can’t jump right into calculus, or even algebra. Your brain can’t process information that way. You have to learn math in order, or else your brain won’t be able to keep up. This is why you have to foam roll first, so the “recipe” turns out the way it’s supposed to. 

Similar to beginning at the lowest level of math, you must start foam rolling, gently, and work your way up. A general guideline for foam rolling is 30-90 seconds for each muscle. If you’re just starting out with foam rolling, it is generally best to start with 30 seconds, then progress to 60 seconds, then 90 seconds as you get used to foam rolling. As a beginner to foam rolling, your pain tolerance will be at its lowest. Because your muscles aren’t used to foam rolling, it will hurt when you first start. As you continue foam rolling, you will start to get used to it. Your muscles will decrease in density and the pain will ease. 

As you continue to foam roll and get more accustomed to it, you can progress to a PVC pipe. This will give you a harder surface to roll on and penetrate the muscles more. As you progress to a PVC pipe, you can decrease the rolling time back down to 30 seconds, since the PVC pipe penetrates the muscles more and rolling intensity is higher. 

Foam rolling is an extremely important aspect of improving performance and minimizing injury. 

 

Take Your Fitness to the Next Level

If you are interested in learning more, check out Fitness Adaptive. I include foam rolling guidelines in all my courses because it’s essential for any athlete. I chose the name Fitness Adaptive, because no matter what you are trying to achieve, you have to place your body under progressive overload, meaning you have to continually place new stresses on the body in order to make progress. You have to ADAPT to new stresses to progress continuously. If you have any questions, or if you are not sure whether Fitness Adaptive is legit, feel free to contact me. Let’s go over any questions you have. This is my personal invitation to you to take the next step forward and get the results that YOU WANT!

Welcome to the revolutionary personal training solution that aims to change the world. Read about our goals, motivations, and roadmap for the future as we continually grow and expand our operations…

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