An Introduction To The Foam Roller – by Emma Marks

Have you ever asked yourself what Foam rolling is all about, and why people would choose to do something that just looks painful?

Maybe you figure you’ve been ok so far so, why bother??

Continue to read this blog and you’ll be rushing out to buy yours before the day is out. It’s an inexpensive piece of kit and easy to buy online, from sports shops and even the supermarket. Leaving you with extra bucks so you can justify that pair of trainers or book on the next GB Ultras event from our race director Wayne 😉!!

The foam roller is just one tool that you can use to aid “self-massage” or Myofascial release – if you prefer the correct term 😉 Other torture devices are: – Spikey balls, Grid sticks and Lacrosse balls.

If you run ultras or are training for your first, your weekly mileage can soon add up.

The physical impact from the repetitive and demanding nature of running, combined with other factors – Lifestyle, diet, stress, repetitive actions, over-training and day to day work (such as sitting at a computer desk / driving / lifting boxes / cleaning etc) contribute to muscular imbalance and poor posture….

Your body is crying out for a bit of TLC!!

I am sure most runners know about using a foam roller to rehab an injury – but what about using your foam roller as part of your weekly training? This piece of kit has numerous benefits for PREHAB. Why not eliminate the injury before it starts by keeping on top of body maintenance?

Using a foam roller regularly will assist with needing out the tight knots in the muscle, compressing and mobilising the fascia for Looser, smoother and more flexible muscles!! For you this means greater “Range of Movement” (ROM) from key joints such as hips and ankles – meaning that you can run more freely with every stride and become a more efficient runner.

“If hip flexors are tight and are unable to extend properly, the ROM from your hips is restricted and will slow you down…..”  Free up those tight hip flexors and become “almost” as fast as Charlie Sharpe 😀

And there are even more benefits to using a foam roller…. Self-massage promotes increased blood flow, carrying important nutrients to our working muscles such as oxygen and Glycogen, and flushes out build-up of lactic acid, aiding muscle repair and reducing the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). So, the next time you go out for a run your legs are not feeling the effects brought on from your previous training runs.

Now you are ready to go again, and the back to back training runs your coach has written into your programming are easier to deal with!!

Top Tip!!

*Pre-Run – Use a dynamic warm-up and foam rolling to raise your core temperature, increase mobility and activate muscles!!

*If you are racing at Chester Ultra, why not bring your foam roller with you…. Registration is in a village hall so after kit check, spend 10 mins warming up with your foam roller before the start.

*Post-Run – Static stretches held for 30 seconds minimal and use your foam roller.

If you don’t have the time to foam roll before and after every run, make sure that you find a time that you can!!

Use your Foam Roller and Get it RIGHT!

Warm muscles prior to using a foam roller by doing a gentle warm- up.  Don’t massage cold muscles!

By changing position, you can foam roll almost every major muscle.

Apply moderate pressure, it should feel uncomfortable, but not unbearable! (less likely after a 50 / 100-mile race so go gentle!!)

Roll slowly, when you find a more tender spot roll back and forth over that area until the tension releases, but equally you don’t want to be rolling over one area for 10 mins, as you can damage the tissue. Leave it and go back to problem areas 24 -48 hours after.

Never roll over joints or bone!

You may feel some muscle soreness afterwards …… But you’re an ultra-runner…. You can take it!!

Stay hydrated, eat well and get a good sleep to help flush your system and fuel muscles effectively ready for your next training session!

Use your foam roller in-between seeing your massage therapist, although it’s a fantastic piece of kit it is no long-term substitute for a sports massage.

Gait analysis and movement screening provide a detailed assessment into muscular imbalance. Through assessing problem areas where muscles are weaker, or particularly tight and limit ROM. Your coach can work with you on your programming, giving you specific strength exercises and stretches for you to do alongside your running programming.

Why not book an assessment with one of our coaches to maximise your training and running potential!

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