I'll be the first one to say I hate warming up. And rolling around on a 2-foot long piece of foam never really seemed like the best use of my time until I started doing it.
But, foam rolling goes much farther than just a warm-up or post-workout routine if done correctly.
While nothing can reproduce the hands of excellent bodywork by an experienced therapist, foam rolling daily can improve the quality of your fascial tissue, ultimately enhancing your flexibility, mobility, and movement.
Here are five ways to improve your foam rolling for your warm-up:
-1- Do a short movement warm-up before rolling. Jog, shuffle, skip etc. No room to do this, jump on a treadmill or bike for 3-5 minutes. This helps get you out of your zombie state, get the blood circulating, and warm the tissues.
-2- If you are rolling for general release, work the calves, IT bands, thoracic spine, quadriceps, and piriformis muscles. If possible, a great way to start is with the bottom of the feet using a lacrosse ball.
-3- Roll the foam roller over the belly of the muscle 5-10 times until you find a tender spot (myofascial adhesion). Hold or "pin" the tender stops for a few seconds. Think of working out a knot. Then roll length of the belly 5-10 more times and repeat.
-4- Stay away from rolling the tailbone, lower ribs (floating ribs in back), the tip of the breastbone, abdominal area (pubic bone), cervical vertebrae (neck area). Make sure you follow guideline three and stay near the belly or middle of the actual muscles. Rolling the actual joint or bony areas is never a great idea.
-5- When rolling, you should experience discomfort and pressure when hitting myofascial adhesions, not pain. If doing it correctly, the sensation will be a feeling of this discomfort and then eventually relief as the tissue relaxes. If you have any severe discomfort after a few breaths, move away from that spot.
You can also foam roll after your workout. Combine this with some deep belly breathing to help your body get back to a sympathetic state. This aids in moving your body towards a faster recovery process.