When it comes to foam rolling, most educated exercisers know all too well that hurts-so-good feeling when loosening your IT bands. But the powers of foam rolling don’t stop at the lower body. To that end, expert Jacob Wadley has designed this head-to-toe foam rolling regimen. Keeping in mind what he most often sees these rolling patterns are designed to address the most problematic areas where our coaches have found movement dysfunction and pain.
In these next six video bites, Wadley demonstrates the better, smarter way to roll. "You should spend 30 to 60 seconds or more on each individual movement," he explains. "If it’s a regeneration or recovery day, take even more time, between 2 and 3 minutes for each move."
And there's more to the technique than you might think—check out Jacob’s top 3 rules of foam rolling.
(1) Hydrate Ahead of Time. Even though foam rolling helps hydrate your tissue, you should down between 10 and 20 ounces of water beforehand, which helps prep the muscles for the work you're about to do.
(2) Roll Before And After a Workout. Most of us wait until we finish a workout to hit the roller. He suggests using the tool in your prehab movements as well as post workout and recovery. Wadley goes on to explain how foam rolling actually increases circulation so the connective tissue and muscle are getting more oxygen and water than if you just held a static stretch.
(3) Slow Your Roll. Foam rolling can hurt, and you're only human. But speeding through each movement is a wasted opportunity. Instead, you want slow, purposeful motions. The key is to focus on these painful areas because they need the most attention and desperately need oxygen, water, and nutrients.
1 of 6 Target: Neck and Traps
Position yourself on your side, with your feet flat, knee bent 90 degrees, your left foot flat on the floor. Place the center of a foam roller beneath your right arm pit, perpendicular to your body, and extend your right arm straight, resting your left hand on the foam roller. (Reach that right arm as far as possible to create more of a stretch.) From this position, roll from your armpit about four inches down towards your waist, and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides; repeat
2 of 6 Target: Lats
Position yourself on your right side, with your right leg flat, knee bent 90 degrees, your left foot flat on the floor. Place the center of a foam roller beneath your right arm pit, perpendicular to your body, and extend your right arm straight, resting your left hand on the foam roller. (Reach that right arm as far as possible to create more of a stretch.) From this position, roll from your armpit about four inches down towards your waist, and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides; repeat.
3 of 6 Target: Shoulders and Pecs
Lie face down, resting your left forearm on the floor, legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Place one end of a foam roller under your right shoulder, extending arm straight out at shoulder height, forming a T with the roller. (Again, reach that straight arm as far as possible to create more tension.) In short movements, roll from your shoulder to right pec and back again, for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch sides and repeat.
4 of 6 Target: Thoracic Spine
Lie face up with feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Center a foam roller beneath your mid-back or shoulder blades so that it is perpendicular to your body. (Note: You can move the foam roller up and down to target different areas of the thoracic spine while still doing the extension motion.) Extend arms out from shoulders at a 45-degree angle. Reach arms back behind you towards floor and back again for 30 seconds to a minute. Make sure that the lower back doesn’t extend—think about pushing the lumbar spine into the ground as you are reaching back.
5 of 6 Target: Glutes and Piriformis
With your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width, center a foam roller beneath your glutes. Lift your right leg and rest your right ankle on your left knee. Roll back and forth from the center of your right glute to the bottom of your spine for 30 seconds to a minute; switch legs and repeat.
6 of 6 Target: Calves
Sit with legs extended in front of you, and rest your lower right calf on the center of a foam roller that's perpendicular to your body. With hands on the floor, press your triceps to lift your butt off the floor, and then place your left foot on top of your right calf. Roll up from your lower right calf to the meat of your calf and back for 30 seconds to a minute. Switch legs; repeat. (Note: Also target the inside and the outside of the calf simply by turning the foot in or turning the foot out.)