Whoever invented foam rolling is a genius. GENIUS. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about it. It’s funny that I had never even heard of foam rolling before last summer, and had never tried it until several months ago! I am hooked. Since I’m continuing my love affair with foam rolling and with my new Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller, I thought I’d share a little more detail about foam rolling and review this amazing new toy. (Note: I am NOT a health and fitness expert! These tips are from my own experimentation and are a description of what I’ve found works well for me.)
|My well-loved traditional foam roller|
Foam rolling involves rolling muscles over a dense foam cylinder (foam roller) to massage muscles. To me it feels like an at-home deep tissue massage and works wonders on breaking up knots and loosening up tight muscles. For all areas, roll gently back and forth over the roller. When you hit a particularly tight or knotty area, hold that spot over the roller. I try to hold these spots for 30 seconds, but depending on how tight the spot is, I don’t always make it that long! You can sometimes even feel some release in the tight muscle after holding it for a few seconds. When I first started foam rolling, I used this informative post from No Meat Athlete to help me get started. Check it out for more foam rolling tips/ideas.
Okay, how do I foam roll?
I normally only foam roll when NO ONE is around because it looks so silly, but I figured that if it can help another runner with knotty legs like mine, then I might as well show the world my incredibly
awkward graceful foam rolling SKILLZ. These are the exercises I primarily focus on:
Stretch your legs out in front of you, prop yourself up on your hands, and cross one leg over the other at the ankle. Position your lower leg on the foam roller and roll back and forth. To roll the inner calves, I lay on my side with my bottom leg back and top leg on the roller. This area tends to be particularly tight for me!
In a seated position with your legs stretched out in front of you, cross one leg over the other at the ankle. Sit with the foam roller under one hamstring and, using your hands on the floor, roll your hamstring back and forth over the roller.
Lay on your stomach, cross one leg over the other at the ankle, and position the foam roller under the bottom leg. Roll from the knee up to the hip. If 1 leg is too tender, you can roll both legs at once to take a little of the pressure off.
This one can get a bit acrobatic! For the IT bands, I lay on my side, prop myself up either on my elbow or hand, and position the roller on my thigh just above the knee. I roll from the knee all the way up to my hip, concentrating on particilary painful/tight spots.
Does it hurt?
I’m not going to lie to you…foam rolling might HURT, especially at first or if you have lots of knots in your muscles. When I first started foam rolling my IT band after I strained it during the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I would literally have tears running down my face the whole time. If you’ve never tried foam rolling, you might be wondering what kind of SADISTIC PERSON would inflict this type of pain on herself! Well, I’m usually a wimp about pain, but the results I saw from foam rolling (from both a traditional roller and the Grid) made the pain DEFINITELY worth it. Also, it gets less painful over time. I could tell my IT band was really healing when not only could I run more miles pain-free, but my foam rolling sessions stopped bringing me to tears!
The Grid Foam Roller Review
My wonderful friend Mrs. Mentor Teacher showed me the Trigger Point Grid foam roller when I was buying new shoes at the running store she works at a few months ago. My first thought was, “That thing looks INTENSE!!” After reading some reviews online and continuing to battle my knotty muscles and tight IT bands, I decided that this baby needed to be mine. I have NOT been disappointed!
I was happy with my regular styrofoam roller that I purchased from Target during my first round of half-marathon training, but after a few months of using it religiously, it has started to look a little…worse for wear.
With a styrofoam roller like this one, after repeated use the foam starts to get squished down in the middle. Not cool. Also, I found that this roller wasn’t dense enough to get into my tight hammys and calves. It works great on my IT bands still, but I found I needed to use a tennis ball or even (ouch) my stainless steel water bottle to get the job done. Enter the Grid.
One key difference between the Grid and a traditional foam roller is that the Grid has an aluminum core. Not only does this make the roller super dense, but it won’t get SQUISHED over time like my old roller! Also, the Grid is smaller than a traditional roller. This is a nice feature in my opinion because it makes the Grid much easier to store. It easily fits in my miscellaneous running gear bin:
Between its small size and the fact that the aluminum core is hollow, it’s super lightweight and would definitely be easy to pack in a suitcase. Some of you might not think that’s the most important feature in a foam roller, but I can definitely see myself bringing this baby on vacations where I’ll be running or to destination races.
The BEST part about the Grid though is (duh) the GRID! Instead of being smooth like a traditional roller, the Grid has 3 different “Distrodensity Zones” aka sections : Low & Flat (smooth), Medium & Tubular (rigdged), and High & Firm (criss cross pattern). Depending on how tender your muscles are, you can position yourself on the roller so you’re using a certain section. I like to use the High & Firm (criss cross) part on my IT Band (aka my nemesis) and hold it there for about 20 seconds at a time. If I’m working out a really sore knot, I use the smoother section. This roller gets right to the point and feels GREAT working on my tight, sore legs.
The Grid is a little expensive and is not necessary--a traditional foam roller will get the job done. But as you can see, I am now a Grid convert. :)
Good luck on your foam rolling adventures!!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this review. I just really freaking love this product!!