Now I'm a little behind on posting but wanted to get this into the blog because I'm now a believer when it comes to Foam Rolling.
First - what is Foam Rolling? It is a Self-Myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used by athletes and physical therapists to inhibit overactive muscles. This form of stretching utilizes the concept of autogenic inhibition to improve soft tissue extensibility, thus relaxing the muscle and allowing the activation of the antagonist muscle (source)
How do you do it? Easy, you position yourself over the roller (depending on the area, eg Calves, quads, hamstrings etc) and slowly roll the target area back and forth over the roller and when you find / 'hit' a tight area hold for 10-15 seconds and apply a little more pressure which can help release the tissue. (source)
Google and you tube has lots of great videos if youre needing more help in visualizing how to postion yourself. If you have a gym membership and there are personal trainers there - ask them to look at your form, usually they are more than helpful.
How often do you do it? I would foam roll after each of my runs - the trainer at the gym told me with my shin splints to do it before my runs too, to help keep my muscles loose. Did I obey? yes and no - just like everyone else I have good days and bad.
Why am I a believer? A few weeks ago I posted about Shin splits - my calves were killing me. Like when I foam rolled it was the worst pain, you could feel how tight my calves were. I took 2 weeks off from running and would foam roll. Now here I am 2 weeks later - and very very little pain / tightness. I went on Saturday for a 1 mile run and no pain when running or after running. I was estatic! Was it resting? Was it foam rolling? Was it both? I'm going to say both but I dont think rest alone was going to 'cure' me.
Where can I get one of these rollers? I got mine at my local running store - tons of places sell them online too. They may be sold at gyms. They come in a variety of sizes so shop around.