By Sarah Bonner
When should I use a foam roller?
There is debate over when to perform SMR, before or after a work out. When used as part of a warm-up, foam rolling will help get you ready for training by releasing muscle tension and increasing your range of motion. After training, SMR helps to start the recovery process for tired and sore muscles. Experiment to find what is best for you.
How long should I roll for?
One of the great benefits of foam rolling is that it doesn’t take long. Although the research varies, spending as little as a 20-30 seconds on each area during a session can be enough to feel the benefits. If you feel any trigger points or knots while you roll, pause on them for 10-20 seconds and then continue. The length of a session varies according to how many areas of the body are included but, in general, expect to spend between 5-20 minutes.
How often should I roll?
While a health professional, such as a physiotherapist, may prescribe a specific regimen, again there is no set standard of how often to roll. Some only roll before or after training, others roll daily or a few times per week. A good place to start is incorporating foam rolling before you work out when you are fresh and motivated.
What is proper foam rolling technique?
Foam rolling technique is actually quite intuitive. Place the roller on the floor and literally roll a specific muscle back and fourth over the roller, like you’re sitting on top of a rolling pin. Roll slow and steady and only roll soft tissue areas, never bones or joints. Spend 20-30 seconds on each area, pausing on any trigger points for 10-20 seconds. Rolling isn’t the most comfortable exercise and can be painful so, if the intensity is too great, control the amount of body weight on the roller by shifting some weight to a free arm or leg. Remember to breathe normally and, with help from engaging your core muscles, maintain a good posture.
What muscles should I roll?
You can roll all the major muscles groups on your body. Cyclists should make sure to roll their calves, quads, IT band, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
How do I use them?
The following images show you how to use foam rollers.
Sarah Bonner the author of a new e-program How To Use A Foam Roller: An Illustrated Guide for Cyclists and the e-article, The Clean Girl’s Guide to Cycling: How to Clean Everything from Bar Tape to Sports Bras, has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion for cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com
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