A beginners guide to foam rolling

Painful yet extremely beneficial. Here’s a basic guide to foam rolling.

Foam rolling is a personal massage tool used to reduce muscle soreness, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your mobility – making you a more efficient runner. Foam rolling can be done before exercise/running, after running, or at any time of the day to reap the benefits.

Related blog post: 10 Best affordable beginner running products.

Reduce muscle soreness

Foam rolling increases the blood flow to our working muscles. After a hard run or workout, our muscles are filled with lactic acid. Increasing the blood flow to our muscles flushes out this lactic acid by bringing more oxygen to the muscles to speed up our recovery and reduce our muscle soreness.

Reduce your risk of injury

Foam rolling after a run or workout decreases our recovery time, essential for hitting our next run or session hard. Secondly, foam rolling a weak/injured muscle before a run or workout activates this muscle and ensures it does not work too hard. This is great for evening out muscular imbalances while protecting yourself from further injury.

Improved mobility

Improving your mobility as a runner will increase your overall running efficiency. Foam rolling helps loosen tight areas such as our hips, quads, and glutes. Foam rolling directly before your run will improve your running efficiency for that run, allowing you to run faster with less energy.

4 basic foam rolling exercises for beginners

We have gathered together five basic foam rolling exercises for beginners. These are designed to complement your running while reducing your risk of injury, improving your mobility, and reducing muscle soreness – allowing you to recover quicker after each run or workout.

1. Hip flexors

Sitting at a desk all day is a common cause of tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are a common cause of injury, frequently leading to muscular imbalances.

How to foam roll tight hip flexors:

  • Position yourself in a plank position
  • Place the foam roller towards the top of your thighs
  • Roll backward on your forearms with the foam roller to target your tight hip flexors
  • This can be done with both or one leg at a time

2. Upper back

Although lower back pain is a common problem, foam rolling your lower back may actually cause more damage than good. However, we can foam roll our upper back.

How to foam roll your upper back:

  • Position the foam roller beneath your shoulder blades
  • Bend your knees and position your hands behind your head for a full stretch
  • Lean back onto the foam roller and slowly roll back and forth
  • Stop on tight areas to reduce back pain
  • Repeat

3. Glutes

Our glutes (buttocks) also become tight from sitting down, and actually through running. Reducing tightness in our glutes will reduce our risk of injury and improve our running performance.

How to foam roll tight glutes:

  • Bend your knees and cross one leg over the other at the knee
  • Sit on the foam roller on the side which is crossed over
  • Roll up and down the glute muscle pausing on any tight spots
  • Repeat

4. Calves

Tight calves will often lead to muscular imbalances while increasing your risk of injury. Tight calves are common among runners. Be sure to perform static calf stretches after running and foam rolling a couple of times a day.

How to roll tight calves:

  • Lie down with your back flat on a mat
  • Lift yourself up on your hands placed directly below your shoulders
  • Place the foam roller under your calves
  • Roll up and down your calves to reduce tightness
  • This can be done with both or one leg at a time

What is the best foam roller to use?

Now that we know how to foam roll, what is the best foam roller to use? Foam rollers actually come in different sizes, textures, and vary between toughness. We have listed some of our favourite foam rollers below for you to take a look at:

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