Foam Rolling & Self-Massage – Karen Doyle

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Massage has been shown to help with recovery rates after training and competition when compared with just resting and as the miles creep up in training for Wicklow 100/200 a massage may be just what your legs need. Work, training and family commitments often mean people can’t get in for a sports massage as often as they would like so a great alternative is self-massage at home using a foam roller. Using a foam roller is a great way to work flush out legs, work out knots and stretch and loosen out tight muscles. When a client uses a foam roller regularly I can notice a difference the suppleness of their muscles, and it is a useful tool to assist with injury prevention.
foam1foam2Foam rollers are cylinders of firm foam approximately 6 inches in diameter from 2 to 4 feet long, although new models in plastic form are also available. Some come with added knobbles to work into knots (or trigger points). They come in different densities with the blue ones often being denser than the white – useful if you are heavier. They work through using body weight to apply pressure on to the muscle. Body movement then helps to roll the foam-roller along the muscle which stretches and massages the muscle.

They are widely available to buy on the internet e.g., and some bike/sport shops from about €18

Guidelines for use
1. When using foam rollers spend up to a minute 2-3 times a week on the muscle being worked out. It can feel tender on tired or very tight muscles so don’t overdo it at first; your tolerance will start to build over the weeks as you use the foam roller. If you have any concerns ask a Medical Professional.
2. The movments can be large i.e. one long roll along the whole muscle, small – where you roll back and forward over a tight area, or you can just focus on one tender spot and allow the pressure from your body weight gradually cause it to release out.
3. For muscles on the front and back of the legs, you can roll both legs at the same time or do one at a time
4. Do not roll over a joint such as the front of the knee as this could cause injury to the joint.

Note; if you are injured or have an existing muscle or joint problem get medical advice before undertaking these exercises.

Foam Rolling for the Quads (Front of thigh)
foam31. Place the foam roller on a firm surface
2. Lie face down over the foam roller putting the roller under the front of the thighs
3. Use your arms to push and pull your body over the foam roller from the top of the thigh down to the knee



Foam Rolling for the Hamstrings & Gluteus Maximus
1. Place the foam roller on a firm surface
2. In a sitting position put the roller under the back of the thighs. Lean back onto your hands
3. Use your arms to push and pull your body over the foam roller from the top of the thigh down to the knee. (If you find that you are not getting enough pressure into your hamstring put one leg over the other and this will apply additional weight through the hamstring)
4. To work your gluteus maximus sit on the roller with your legs outstretched and roll back and forward on it


Foam Rolling for the ITB (outside of thigh)
foam51. Place the foam roller on a firm surface
2. Lie on your side placing the foam roller under the lower thigh
3. This can be quiet tender so work slowly