Foam Rolling for Athletes
The foam roller is a great tool athletes can use to improve their performance. Strength and flexibility are two key components that help develop athletic ability. Using a foam roller will increase your range of motion, soothe sore muscles, and build stability through balance-proprioception exercises. Common areas that are often targeted by athletes with a foam roller include:
- IT band
- Back muscles
To use a foam roller to target these muscle groups, try the following technique:
Sit on top of the foam roller with it horizontal underneath your hips. Use your hands to support you when needed. The great thing about foam rolling is that it is often a strengthening exercise as well. Begin to roll the foam roller down the backs of your legs, targeting the hamstrings. You can take long, slow strides. If you find a place that feels tighter, make smaller movements forward and back to target that area.
After spending some time on the hamstrings, turn to one side and begin to massage your outer hip muscles in short strokes. Then, place your forearm on the floor and slowly roll all the way down from your outer hip to your knee. This is the IT band. Again, if it feels tighter in one spot, take smaller strokes there for a few moments.
From here, turn toward the ground so that both forearms are on the floor now. Take shorter strokes to target the hip flexors first. Then, roll the foam roller all the way down the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) and back up. You will have to walk your forearms forward and back as well, sort of like an army crawl.
Finally, turn toward the other hip and roll out the glutes and IT band on the other side. You can also target the back muscles by lying over the foam roller and rolling it all the way up and down the back.
Many other exercises can also be performed on a foam roller to enhance stretching and stability in addition to the massage techniques it offers. For athletes, using a foam roller will help to decrease muscular imbalances for better performance in their sport through prevention and maintenance exercises.