Foam Rolling is a technique that can be used by players as a part of their recovery and cool down programme. Foam rolling also known, as self-myofascial release (SMR) has become an increasingly popular strategy used by athletes over the last decade due to its ease of use and effectiveness.
What is a foam roll?
A foam roll used in self-myofascial release is a cylindrical object made of hard-celled foam. The athlete’s body weight acts as the pressure to relieve tension when rolling over different muscle groups.
Why use foam rolling during recovery?
The use of foam rolling, as well as self massage which is covered in recovery chapter 9 is brilliant tool for players whose finances cannot support regular massage. It is also an effective method as this type of programme can be completed if home or travelling on the tour.
Research has demonstrated that the use of foam rolling post exercise has far greater benefits when compared to it not being used at all.
The benefits of foam rolling post exercise:-
- Correct muscle imbalances created from exercising
- Alleviate muscle soreness and swelling
- Increase joint range of motion (ROM)
- Alleviate joint stress and impact
- Improve neuromuscular efficiency
- Promote soft tissue extensibility and flexibility through breaking down scar tissue
Different muscle groups can be targeted post exercise to relieve tension. Different techniques are outlined below.
Begin seated on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your lower leg and cross the other leg over the opposite to support some of the weight. Place your hands to your side and raise your hips off of the floor to allow most of your weight to be placed on your calf. Roll from below the knee to you ankle and hold at points of tension for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg.
In a seated position, extend your legs with the foam roll placed under upper legs and place hands by side. Lift your hips off the floor and shift your weight on the foam roll to one leg and relax hamstrings. Roll from below the hip to behind the knee and at points of tension hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Lie on your side, with the bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee and the other leg crossed in front of you. Place as much of your weight as is tolerable onto your bottom leg and relax the muscles, as this will reduce the pain. Roll your leg over the foam from you hip to your knee, pausing for 10-30 seconds at points of tension. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Sitting with your buttocks on top of a foam roll, bend your knees and cross one leg so the ankle is over the knee. Shifting your weight to the crossed leg side, roll over the foam roll until tension is felt in the upper glute. To further the stretch, pull the bent knee into your chest and hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch to the opposite leg after complete.
Lie facedown on the floor using your hands or forearms to support your weight. Place a foam roll underneath one leg of the quadriceps, keeping the foot off of the ground whilst relaxing the leg as much as possible. Place as much weight onto the stretched leg as possible and roll from below the hip to above the knee. If points of tension are found hold for 10-30 seconds, then switch to the other leg.
Lie face down with one leg on a foam roll and rotate so your inner thigh is in contact with the foam roll. Place as much weight as can be tolerated onto the roll whilst trying to remain relaxed then roll your inner thigh from hip to know over the foam. For any points of tension hold for 10-30 seconds then repeat with opposite leg.
Sitting on the floor place the foam roll at bottom of back and then cross your arms in front. Lean back raising the hips off the floor and keep weight on your lower back. Shift your weight slightly to one side avoiding the spine and surrounding muscles and roll over lower back, holding at points of tension for 10-30 seconds.
Rhomboids (Upper Back)
Lie down and place a foam roll underneath your upper back with your arms crossed in front of you. Place weight on the foam roll by lifting your hips and shift your weight to one side. Roll over your middle and upper back and for any tension points hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat this on the opposite side.