Foam rolling: One of the most underrated tools for triathletes
Foam rolling has been around for a while now and it is something we always hear we should do, but I find that not that many people actually do it on a regular basis. I think the reason for this, at least in my own experience, is that it is hard to stay on top of the preventative things when you don't have an immediate issue. For me, my knees start to fall apart at some point if I stop doing my foam rolling. It happens everytime I stop, yet for some reason, when I'm feeling healthy, it becomes so easy to forget about it.
Well I'm here to tell you to not forget about it! Stay on top of your foam rolling. A session takes no longer than 10 minutes and can save your season! I make myself do it first thing in the morning when I wake up to get it to be a part of my routine. It can also be used as an awesome way to warm up or cool down from a workout as there are benefits to both.
You may have heard of foam rolling as "the poor man's massage" and this is kind of true in an awesome way. For under $50 (less than the price of one massage) you can get all of the tools needed to perform self massage indefinitely. This has to be one of the best return on investment tools in the triathlon gear arsenal. Below I will show you the exact tools I use for foam rolling after using tons of different products as well as my foam rolling routine.
Foam rolling tools I recommend
These two below are my absolute essentials and also happen to be the most affordable as well. These both go with me everywhere I go so if you have to make a choice, click the links below and get these ordered ASAP.
Other nice to have tools
How and why to foam roll
The method of foam rolling is quite simple, but is done incorrectly all the time. The goal is slow and steady here. Roll along the desired spot very slowly until you feel a painful spot. This pain is usually from what is called a "trigger point." Think of trigger points as knots that need to be worked out. Leave the foam roller on that spot with little motion back and forth for about 30 seconds or until it releases then move on. If you're rolling quickly along your legs like you'll see people doing all the time, you really aren't doing much.
The reason to foam roll is to find the sticking points and work them out before they cause other issues. Weird tightness in muscles can cause issues in the joints and create out of the norm lines of muscle pull throughout the body. We foam roll to prevent these from happening. Foam rolling increases flexibility, makes muscles more effective and elastic, and straightens out the fascia surrounding the body.
My foam rolling routine
I start with the calves and slowly roll the medial, middle, and lateral sides of the muscles (a trend for the rest of the muscle groups). Then I move onto the hamstrings and do the same thing. I make sure to work into the hamstring attachment as that is a common site for tightness. After the hamstrings are finished, I roll over to one side and start on the IT Band. This tends to be one of the most painful spots for people, but also one of the most needed. From here, I will focus on that leg and roll all the way around, hitting the middle thigh and then the inside (my most painful spot). From here, I transition to the other leg and do the same thing on that quad. Then I move to the GoFit Massage Ball and work the glutes. I focus on hitting the ridge of the pelvis and really sit on tight spots for a good amount of time until they release. Lastly, I finish off hitting my lateral scapula, which really helps prevent swimmer's shoulder that I've dealt with multiple times in the past. All of this takes me just a few minutes and is lifesaving for my season.
Jake is a triathlete and coach with a passion for travel and everything triathlon. He loves sharing his knowledge and experiences with others.
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