Here are 5 common mistakes people make when they begin foam rolling:
#1. No Pain No Gain: The point of foam rolling is to rehydrate tissue, not to find the most painful place. When the brain experiences pain it commands the muscles to contract and protect. This is counterproductive and will not allow increased circulation. It will increase your heart rate and blood pressure though.
#2. Search & Destroy: Many people become overly aggressive when rolling soft tissue. Generally the area which they target is tender or sore because it is inflamed. Rolling back and forth over an area of inflammation often makes the situation worse. It may feel good in the moment but could very well slow down the recovery process.
#3. Speedy Gonzales: Not taking a slow, controlled approach to rehydrating the affected tissue with foam rolling is a common mistake. Have you ever received a quick massage as if the therapist is late for a date? Not very effective in calming down tense areas.
#4. Same Old Same Old: Most people continue to roll the same areas day after day without exploring other sites. The body is in a constant state of flux. Therefore, what a person rolls on Monday may need to be different on Tuesday. There are over 650 muscles in the body. Not all of them need the same attention, but there are sure to be a few that are yearning for just a little more.
#5. Not Having a Plan: Some people blindly roll the same areas without really having a plan. A better approach may be to gain an understanding of which muscles are being pulled on more than others. Rolling out those areas can allow the body to return to a more balanced, aligned posture. The chart below is something I have developed for my clients and many chiropractic patients. Based on where the pressure is centered in a person’s feet gives better insight on where to roll. Example: if, when standing naturally, there is more pressure in the forefeet, the areas that should be rolled are the hipflexors, quads, and calves. If the pressure is more toward the heels, the gluteals and hamstrings would be the target areas.