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  • The Holistic Ape

5 Foam Rolling Mistakes

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Foam rolling is not the next trend or training fad. It's a tool that's been used for a quite some time now. There's a reason for that, foam rolling works. You can find foam rollers almost everywhere you go now; fitness gyms, gymnastics gyms, living rooms, and even physical therapy offices.

Some are even small enough to take with you where ever you go. You may get some weird looks but that's alright. Be the weird one because you are the one that's doing something about your health and body.

Foam rollers have especially become popular with runners. But just because you are an athlete, of any kind, doesn't mean you know how to do everything fitness and recovery related. So let's take a look at some things you may be doing wrong and how to fix them so you can become more physically intelligent, and all-around a better athlete.

Mistake #1: Foam Rolling an Injured Area

If your IT band was in pain or discomfort it seems like it would make sense to foam roll it to loosen it or relax the area, right? No.

Where you feel pain or discomfort isn't where the pain always originates. An overused muscle can be pushed too far, kind of like your mother-in-law. It's better known as an Overuse Injury or Repetitive Strain Injury. We have to sometimes just let the muscle rest, modify our lives, and heal.

Since we're already talking about the IT Band, here is an example: IT Band trouble more commonly stems from muscle groups attached to the IT Band. Inactive, tight, gluteus maximus or tight hip external rotators, primarily piriformis can be a cause. Self-myofascial release over the piriformis and even the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) muscle bulk can be an excellent solution for IT band issues.

What should you do instead?

Instead of foam rolling an already injured area, find the bigger muscle groups or closer muscles that connect to the injured area. This way you'll avoid disturbing that injured area therefore also avoiding unnecessary inflammation. Eventually, you can work your way into the trigger point as pain and time allow. Work that injured area gently at first.

Mistake #2: Foam rolling too quickly

It's no secret that foam rolling is uncomfortable.

Movement practitioners, athletes, runners, etc. that know when it's time to foam roll will sometimes speed over muscle groups because it hurts less. But remember no pain, no gain. If you're short on time and just want to get a quick session in and foam roll everywhere? Yeah, that's us too. No shame.

What should you do instead?

Getting the foam rolling session over with quickly is what we all want, but it's not what we need. Spend a considerable amount of time on each muscle group. Rolling quick may increase blood flow and circulation but our goal is to release the fascia and that's going to take some time.

Slow and deliberate foam rolling movements are going to be your new best friend. Say it with us: "slow and deliberate." Now pat yourself on the back.

Mistake #3: Rolling the same spot too long

You're going to have to bear with us on this one, even though it kind of contradicts mistake #2. In actuality, it doesn't. Check it:

One benefit to foam rolling is that it releases trigger points. Similar to mistake #1 (foam rolling an injured area) staying on a tight knot aka a trigger point too long, can actually irritate a nerve or damage the tissue rather than make it better; leaving it bruised or increasing inflammation.

What should you do instead?

One awesome benefit of owning an Ape Movement 2-in-1 Foam Roller (DISCONTINUED PRODUCT) is that it comes with two different density foam rollers, with different grid systems. You can choose which foam roller to use, we recommend going gentle at first with the inner foam roller.

It's all about progression here. Your body weight should suffice for now. Gradually build up to using your legs or other weight-bearing things to add more pressure and get that deeper tissue to release. For trigger points, you should stay on a spot no longer than 30 seconds.

Mistake # 4: Using bad form

Holding proper form in some of the foam rolling techniques is actually quite difficult. That's why we keep saying progression, progression, progression.

The IT band position is like doing a full side plank, almost all your body weight is rested on that side. Foam rolling your quadriceps is basically like doing a plank, requiring good core strength.

Using the bad form isn't hard to do especially if you foam roll after a workout. A sagging core or hip drop can make an existing injury worse, and we don't want that. Although, you'll know where you are weak and can then work out those areas.

What should I do instead?

If you find yourself doing some positions with bad form try to think about a different position or move you can do instead.

You can always foam roll once you are feeling a little more energized after your workout, it doesn't have to be right after. If you're at a gym, ask a trainer or a friend to give you some tips on your form. Or if you're at home try filming yourself to check your form.

Well, that's all the tips we have for this time. Just remember, foam rolling is uncomfortable but worth it. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Make foam rolling a consistent part of your recovery plan and feel the difference!

Mistake #5: Rolling over your Greater Trochanter

Rolling my what?!

The Greater Trochanter is that bone that sticks out of your hip area. If you run your hand down your leg it's the bump sticking out. You'll especially feel it when you're standing up. When you roll over tissue too much, you're just irritating it. In this case, you'd be causing inflammation to the bursa. Not good.

What should I do instead?

Instead of rolling the Greater Trochanter directly, roll around it. When you foam roll your IT Band you'll definitely want to stop just before the Greater Trochanter. If you are experiencing pain or inflammation in that particular area figure out what muscle is at a dysfunctional level. Not always, but in some cases, the culprit would be a tight TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae). Just for the record, if you think you might have bursitis, go see a doctor.

Thanks for reading and we hope this helps you out a little!


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