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Updated: Jan 25, 2023

That blue or black foam roller in the gym is a common sight but the guy that benches 315 on the regular tells you it is pointless. So, you stay away from foam rolling and begin working your way to moving heavy weights, and the more you lift, the stronger you get, but the worse the recovery process. Your ability to move freely begins to worsen. After having built the habit of moving heavy weights, you find that you’ve hit a wall, and now suddenly you feel like you are moving backwards. You begin experiencing constant muscle pain, when you sit, when you stand, when you lie down at night, now your sleep doesn’t come about properly. It is difficult to build the right way without proper sleep. To sleep and sleep well at that, we need to be comfortable. You check the temperature in the house - looking good. The firmness of the mattress – just perfect. Positioning of the pillows; amazing. Got in your daily exercise, check. Ate the right amount at the right time, check. Didn’t drink caffeine too late…. hmmmm….but still can’t seem to get comfortable enough to sleep. “I wish I could get a massage, the knots in these muscles are killing me” ----- aaaaaand there it is. That foam roller that was scoffed at could have helped. Whether you use a foam roller, lacrosse ball, massage gun, or any other tool available for this, it will work.

Foam rollers come in various densities, some of them add a battery-operated vibration feature, there are ones available in travel sizes, and different surface structures to increase pressure on focal points (often called massage rollers). In addition to foam/massage rollers, we have the easy availability of lacrosse balls at any sporting goods store you may come across. The make of lacrosse balls is the perfect balance to focus on one point of muscle tension at a time. It is made of extremely dense rubber – however, there is a tiny bit of give to it that it provides you with the ability to put your weight against it while wedged between you and a wall. Mind you, lacrosse balls should only be used if you are familiar with foam rolling and you have moved up in density. Otherwise, I promise you the pressure it applies to your muscle will send you running for the hills.

Roll, find, hold ---- roll, find, hold. This is usually the series of events that should be followed regardless of the SMR tool that is used. Roll so that you can feel out where a “tender spot” is in your musculature, and once you find the spot it is recommended that you hold it for 30 seconds. Now mind you, that is just based on an average. It may not always need 30 seconds. You may find that once you roll and get to the spot, within 10 or 15 seconds you are able to breathe easily, and that the area holds no more tension. You may also need more than 30 seconds, in which case take your time. These are the same steps and processes to follow if you are using a massage gun as well (obviously you won’t roll but move the working massage gun over a general area to find the spot). The best times I find to use these are before a workout as the very beginning of a warm-up, and the other time I find it to be very useful is at nighttime before bed. It’s important to know that you should roll to feel out the spots, and once you find the spot that feels the tightest, you must hold the pressure there and focus on your breathing. Do not be discouraged from continuing when you feel a fair amount of pressure at first. However, stay away from Self-Myofascial Release if you have Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, uncontrolled diabetes, varicose veins, bleeding disorders, also on areas with healing fractures, and if you are pregnant (ESPECIALLY in the first Trimester). If you do not have anything going on that would aggravate a problem or create a problem, go for it. "Keep rolling rolling rolling rolling" (yup I quoted Limp Bizkit and showed my age). Have a good one!

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