Prevent injuries with foam rolling
The Best Injury-Prevention Workout You’re Not Doing
Image: Thomas McDonald
Foam rolling is in many ways like a deep massage—but you give it to yourself. By rolling the hard foam over your thighs, calves, and back, you’ll loosen tough connective tissue (like the fascia, which stretches over many of your muscles and can tighten up) and decrease the stiffness of your muscles. The result? Better flexibility and mobility, and muscles that can function properly. (How flexible are you? Find out.) I recommend foam rolling before any workout, but in reality, you can do it anytime. The easiest time is to pull out the foam roller while you’re watching TV. If you’ve never foam-rolled before, be prepared. It’s uncomfortable and can even be painful when you start. Don’t worry—the more painful it is, the more that muscle needs foam rolling. The good news is that the more you do it, the less discomfort you’ll feel. For each muscle that you work, slowly move the roller back and forth over it for 30 seconds. If you hit a really tender spot, pause on it for 5 to 10 seconds. Definitely focus on the muscles that need rolling the most. You’ll know which ones they are just by trying it. You’ll find 36-inch foam rollers at most sports or fitness shops, but in a pinch you can also use a basketball, tennis ball, or even a length of PVC pipe.