Are you one of the people with a roller sitting in a dusty corner in your house because it does NOTHING for you – or, even sadder – someone who rolls out for hours after rough workouts, all to no avail? Well don’t give up just yet! If the roller’s not doing you wrong, you are probably just doing it wrong. Avoid these three foam rolling mishaps, and you will be on your way to a great relationship with your roller, save tons of time, and get back on track to maximize your athletic success. Get hip to it.
1. You’re choosing the wrong roller…
At the end of the day, a foam roller is a foam roller… Hell, you could use an old section of PVC pipe if you were so inclined, and really not willing to spend $$$ on an actual foam roller.
Here’s the rub…It’s always best to choose the right tool for the job. A common mistake is to buy/use too dense or hard of a roller when you first add foam rolling to your movement repertoire. A crucial aspect to behavior change, or developing new, good for you habits, is to have a good experience doing so in the beginning. If you’ve never rolled before, choosing an ultra hard, spiny crocodile-back inspired, roller is going to light you up like a mortar shot on the fourth of July. Instead, choose a softer roller when you first start rolling, and acclimatize your body over time to pressure. Not only will you have the immediate relief you are looking for, but an experience that can be consistent enough to deliver the oh-so-good long term results we are after.
2. Quit holding your breath.
Holding your breath is a sign of threat to your nervous system. Something we do in anticipation of fight or flight…the calm before the storm, so to speak… So, if rolling is so painful you can’t breathe, or rather, you habitually hold your breath while rolling, you are simply setting yourself up for perhaps less than desirable outcomes. Our goal is to reduce tissue sensitivity, and provide novel input for our nervous system to respond to, therefore the addition of some conscious, diaphragmatic breathing can enhance our ability to elicit a parasympathetic nervous system state, versus a fight or flight, fear response. Totally different context of stimulus when it comes to our brains interpretation of what the hell is going on. This is why I always program breath work before foam rolling in my rehab and performance training programs…because where you start, can heavily influence where you finish…
Stop the Lazy Rolling!
Lazy rolling is by far the most common, and my nightmare as a coach. What I mean by “lazy” rolling is simply smashing your tissues back and forth, and missing the opportunity to be ACTIVE and explore your movement and ranges of motion. When you are working with an athlete or client for an hour at a time, there simply isn’t any time or room for fluff. So when I program foam rolling as part of a warm up, let’s say… it’s imperative that it is done with the same amount of intent, focus, and specificity as that that main lift for the day. So, the takeaway here, is use your time with your foam roller as if you are exploring an unknown forest. Tune in to how you feel, the environment of your body, areas that may feel tight or more tender… and when you find them, don’t simply smash them to bits, actively contract and relax your muscles in that area while on the roller, or move through a range of motion to get those tissues moving internally, while applying the “hurts so good” amount of pressure.
As always, we are here to help, so feel free to hit me up @mikestella_atc or meet me at a RockTape FMT course near you! If you need a recommendation, my favorite selection of top quality foam rollers and mobility products come from TriggerPoint Therapy. Tell them Mike Stella sent you. 😎