I love a massage, although none of my family members feel like rubbing my aching muscles after I get back home from a run, apparently. They bother me with details like showering. Now that I have a foam roller, I can self-massage the hot spots in my muscles. Foam rolling was once only practiced by physical therapists and coaches of elite athletes, but it's gone mainstream. Foam rolling is the practice of rolling tender muscles on a foam cylinder after a workout. The pressure against the muscle releases knots or what experts refer to as "trigger points' in your muscles. Foam rolling has been a huge development for many who suffer from knotted muscles. If you're thinking of trying foam rolling yourself, here are some basic pointers to get you started: 1) Start soft
. At some gyms and tracks, you'll see seasoned athletes using different models of foam roller, and even lengths of PVC pipe covered with fabric. When you're just starting out in this practice, get a softer foam roller from a specialty retailer like a sporting goods store or running store. The staff there can guide you to the best choice for you. 2) Watch how it's done first
. If you're working with a coach or trainer, they can instruct you on how to use your roller. There are also a myriad of You Tube videos as well. 2) Do NOT use a foam roller on your lower back
. This is a let down statement for the thousands of people who struggle with lower back pain, but foam rolling is not designed for the lower back. The muscle network in the lower back is too complex for foam rolling. Ask your doctor about using a tennis or lacrosse ball on specific back muscles. 3) Foam roll after your workout, not before
. Your muscles are warm after your workout, and the foam roller will work more efficiently. 4) Only roll each muscle area for less than 1 minute
. There's a temptation to use the 'longer must be better' logic with foam rolling, but longer is actually NOT better. Limit the rolling of each area to less than 60 seconds. Newbies should start with about 20 seconds until they get used to the practice.