How to Use the Foam Roller for Runners

Thursday, 5 November 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

After our TRX Suspension Trainer Seminar, Coach Jim Saret arrived to discuss a product that I believe all runners should have: the foam roller.

The foam roller is a product that I searched far and wide for during my ITBS days earlier this year.  I had done extensive research on stretching and loosening up my tight ITB muscles and I learned that the foam roller could be a good ally in the battle against ITBS.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge, it wasn’t available locally.  

I did the next best thing. I wore my Martha Stewart hat and proceeded to create my very own foam roller.  I bought a PVC pipe at the local hardware store, cut up my old yoga mat, wrapped it around the pipe twice, and voila, I had a foam roller that was a quarter of the cost of the original!  I foam rolled on my ITB thrice a day.  A couple of days later, when I paid a visit to my doctor, he looked at my black-and-blued thigh in horror and said “What have you been doing?!”  I replied proudly, “foam rolling!”  He advised me to stop it unless I got a real foam roller, which was probably 10x softer.  So much for resourcefulness!

So, here I was in the gym.  This time, with the real foam roller in my hands (yes, it was a lot softer than my PVC pipe or a rolling pin…duh!) and, even better, one of the most sought after coaches was right before me to teach me how to use it!

It’s very simple, really. Here are tips from Coach Jim on how to use the foam roller effectively:

1. Place hot compress on the area or warm up with jumping jacks or easy run.
2. Foam roll on the area:

ITB: lie sideways and slowly move up and down the upper thigh (Click here to view the You Tube video I followed during my ITBS days. A quick search in youtube will provide you with enough demos to guide you on proper use)

– Hec demos foam rolling on ITB. Tongue exercise need not be followed. For progression, you could lift both legs off the floor –

CALVES: sit up with legs outstretched and foam roller under the calves. Variations: foot outward, inward, straight

– Mitch Felipe rolls on her calves, muscles that get extremely tight for runners –

QUADS: face downward and place foam roller under the quads

– Coach Jim rolls on his quads –

3. The slower the movement, the better.
4. Run.
* You can also perform the exercises anytime during the day.

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Foam rollers are available at Chris Sports.