Foam rolling has become very popular over the course of the last 5 years or so. The simple theory behind foam rolling is that it helps repair your myofascia (or muscle fascia, fascia being a type of connective tissue that wraps around muscle and most other structures of the body) to a more normal functioning state. This is why foam rolling is a form of stretching known as self-myofascial release (SMR).
As useful as the foam roller is, it’s easy to use it incorrectly and possibly cause injury. Here is a short video on some of the important spots to hit while rolling:
Starting from the beginning, first we’re rolling out the tensor fascia latae (TFL, a hip flexor which connects to the iliotibial tract) and the lateral side of the quad, or the vastus lateralis. Rolling the TFL and lateral part of your quad may be a better way to relieve iliotibial (IT Band) pain than rolling the IT Band itself. This is because the IT Band is much more dense and has much less plasticity than a muscle, therefore you are less likely to effect its function by rolling it. Next is the medial part of the quad, vastus medialis, and the hip adductors.
When we roll over we’re going to roll the gluteus maximus, then cross our leg so that we can pin point some deeper hip rotators such as the piriformis, which is known to be a cause of low back pain. Finally, on your back we’ll roll out the thoracic spine, lats and posterior shoulder muscles, all of which can be problem areas especially for those of us that sit too much (which is basically everybody!).
These, by no means, are your only options as far as utilizing the foam roller. The movements demonstrated in the video are simply the ones that will help you hit the areas which generally are effected most by everyday life.