Running is one of the hardest sports on your body. Muscles and soft tissue will be worked hard and often can knot or hold tension. If you're one of the runners who always feel really tight and sore after a workout and can't afford a massage therapist, we've found you a great solution! Head out and get yourself a foam roller. Using a foam roller is an inexpensive way to roll-out knots and do what's called self myo-facial release. It is like giving yourself a deep tissue massage.
A little background on these rollers – they are simple, really, just a tube, usually one or three feet long and about 6 inches in diameter. Foam rollers are hard enough to put pressure on knots but are soft enough to allow for some give to match the shape of your body. They are round shaped so they can roll and are usually long so they can be used length-wise across your back.
You place the roller on the floor and then lay yourself over it on the body part you are trying to stretch. This can be painful, so you need to adjust your body weight accordingly so that it’s a “hurts good” feeling, not torture
What are the benefits?
Improve your balance, massage your muscles, and stretch your tight hamstrings easily. The foam roller will help muscles recover faster as it helps blood to be circulated through them. It also will help with flexibility and range of motion as bunched up knots that are pulling muscles tight will be released. When applying pressure, the golgi tendon organs help trigger the relaxation of the muscle spindles, helping dissipate the adhesions, increase blood flow, and enhance overall movement.
More significantly, the roller helps your body improve your alignment and hip mobility and increase your core flexibility. Flexibility is an important part of achieving and maintaining a full range of motion around the joints.
Things to be aware of
Never foam roll your joints. Running is difficult enough on your joints without putting pressure on them with the foam roller. Stop the rolling motion before you get to your knees or ankles. Take your body off the roller and place it on the other side of the joint if you are going down the leg. Also, do not roll directly onto a bruise or cut. Not only will it be painful to roll onto a bruise, but it will make it heal slower.