If you're not foam rolling, you're not going to be on your A game. These home helpers can improve circulation and delivery of nutrients to your muscles, enhance tissue hydration, help your tender trigger points and are great for warm-ups and cool-downs. They deliver the ultimate self-massage. But if you're using one wrong, you're not going to get max benefits. Movement expert Matt Waterton, creator of sports performance tool the Waveblade (waveblade.co), a next-gen alternative to a foam roller, shares three common mistakes we make when using a foam roller:
Problem 1: Using it too much or too little
Why this is bad: It’s important to spend the right amount of time under pressure. Spending too little time won't let you release muscles/trigger points, and spending too much time (especially on harder products) can cause microvascular trauma.
Do it right: Try spending around 45-60 secs on each part of your body. When using more durable, heavy-duty foam rollers, don't spend more than 1 min on each area.
Problem 2: Self-diagnosing pain
Why this is bad: It’s always best to leave pain diagnosis to an expert. For instance, suffering from lower back pain can often be a symptom of imbalances in other areas like the hips – so hyper-extending over a foam roller won't necessarily fix your problem. You'll need to learn correct release strategies that are unique to your individual problem.
Do it right: Invest in a mobility assessment. A movement expert, physical therapist or well-qualified PT should be able to diagnose your issues and design a unique mobility program for you.
Problem 3: Only rolling for mobility
Why this is bad: Sorry, you're not done yet. If you don't follow up your foam roll practice with dynamic mobility drills in the same area, you're only doing half the job. Restoring movement to your joints helps improve overall functional ranges of motion.
Do it right: Incorporate dynamic movements, like hip extension stretches, after you release tightness in your quads and hip flexors with the roller. Remember this mantra: Release, Move, Improve. Got it?