Too Cheap for a Real Massage: Self Massage using a Foam Roller
After a tough workout or race, I’ve found the best thing to do is get a deep sports massage to work your tired muscles after they’ve been exhausted. Every time I’ve managed to get one (even just a 5 to 10 min massage), I’m not sore the next day. It’s pretty incredible! It’s not everyday that I have the time or money to get a professional massage, (actually it’s pretty rare) so when a friend swore by his foam roller, I decided to check it out. A foam roller enables you to do targeted, deep self massage on almost your entire body using just your body weight. I’ve only had the chance to use it for the last couple days and already I can easily say that this thing rocks!
The one I got is a medium firmness, 18″ long / 36″ wide foam roller from runningfree.com. Elsewhere you can find longer (3 feet), shorter (12″ travel) and firmer rollers. I was pretty skeptical at first but once I got on… Wow! I was able to find and massage a bunch of crazy sole muscles that I didn’t even know were fatigued. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of high intensity jumping workouts as well as my normal running intervals and so I knew my legs were shot. How bad, I didn’t know even I tried the foam roller.
First, I started on my quadriceps by placing the roller underneath my quads while gently stabilizing my body with my arms, forming what looks like a see-saw. While keeping my weight on my legs, I slowly rolled my body across the roller from just above my knees to the top of my quads and back again repeatedly. My sole muscles were now taking beating, but the good kind. When I found an especially sore spot (which was almost my entire quad!), I’d go super slow to really work it in. To get an idea of what it feels like, think of when you have a super sore muscle that feels tender when you poke it with your finger. Now instead of just poking it and saying “ouch”, you’re pressing deep into it your fist and holding it there.
After rolling a bit on my quads, I decided to see how my calves were feeling. Evidently even more sore than my quads! This time, I massaged my calves one leg at a time, slowly rolling back and forth from the top to the bottom of my calf repeatedly. This one took a little more upper body strength to get going but it was well worth it. The roller was going deep into my muscles and getting the blood flowing.
Next up, I sat on the roller and found a small but very sole muscle on sort of the outer portion of my butt. I don’t know what it’s called but my friend said it would be sore and yeah, he was right. Since it was small, there was really no need to roll on it, just sitting on it was doing the job.
I’ve been mainly just doing these 3 areas for the last couple days and my legs seem to be recovering faster and stronger than usual. It’s great! In addition, although I haven’t tried yet, it can be used all over your body such as your back, legs, butt, etc, as well as a tool for conditioning for abs and such. For some of the stuff you would need a longer roller than my 18″ one though.
Would I recommend the foam roller? Most definitely. It’s a great cost effective way to get a deep self massage and help with that after exercise recovery. Check it out!