Foam rolling is like sex: There are no rules. The best approach is just to do what feels good to you in the moment.
Time and time again, though, I see confused, almost intimidated-looking clients unclear where to start when it comes to the lacrosse ball and foam rollers.
What do I do with this thing?
Where do I stick it?
Then I see the same people in the corner of the gym with their foam roller, going through the motions apprehensively, utterly inhibited and like they just want the experience to end, looking afraid someone’s judging them.
If you’re craving some (foam rolling) direction, here you go….
First off, here’s a great Foam Rolling 101 video for some initial tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMMKmLUEG9c&t=10s
Different strokes for different folks:
Tissues respond in different ways. It’s like going back to the single life only to discover how weird people are, no matter how much you thought you had “figured out.” The successful ones are persistent with the basics, but open to a new angle…
Find the hot spots!
Kind of like finding the clitoris for the first time: “Up a bit. Over. To the left…No, my left. Yeah, there!”
Same goes for foam rolling the quads. Play around until you find a particularly sticky spot. Once you find it, give some love to that spot, dig a little deeper, without it being too painful, of course.
When? How long?
The best time to foam roll is after a workout. Time is up to you, but in the neighbourhood of one to two minutes per area of the body: One to two minutes per thigh, one minute per glute, one to two minutes on your spine…In the end, though, it’s kind of like taking a shower: If you’re still enjoying it and aren’t in a rush, keep going.
How painful should it be?
It can be uncomfortable at first, and might be hard to determine what is “too much pain.” If you feel searing, hot pain, back off. But a bit of pain, especially if you’re dealing with DOMS, is OK. Start with light pressure and ramp up as the small amount of pain starts to subside. It also helps to take deep breaths when you find a sticky spot.
Areas to avoid?
Rolling over your joints, or super boney areas, isn’t always the best idea. Foam rolling and lacrosse ball digging is mostly about your muscles/soft tissue.
Think of foam rolling more like making love than angry banging. On the slower and methodical side is ideal for recovery—for encouraging your tissue to chill.
If you’re still confused, the best thing to do is just grab a foam roller and start playing around. Soon, you’ll discover your body and what you particularly like.