I’ll admit that I was a little late to the game in embracing soft-tissue manual therapy. Perhaps it’s just me, but feeling a little sore in between workouts was a welcome reminder that I was working my muscles harder than normal.
However all of that changed last year after I began foam rolling regularly. Currently I’m a firm believer that it is key to improving flexibility, relieving soreness, and reducing the risk of injury—either in the gym or on the golf course. Top fitness experts like Ben Shear, Mark Verstegen, and Mike Boyle have been touting its benefits for years. My resistance to hug it simply came from the notion that gym goers are looking for ways to reduce time exercising, not add to their already busy workouts.
OK, speech over. In speaking with the experts and testing their beliefs, I’ve come up with five foam-rolling hacks that will help you adopt it into your workout routine much easier and smarter.
1. Buy an adjustable-density roller. When you first start foam rolling, you won’t believe how sensitive certain muscles are to the applied pressure. The first time I hit my quadriceps with one, I nearly jumped to the rafters of my gym. So buying a roller that allows you to adjust the firmness of pressure is key. That way you can start with a soft massage and gradually adjust the firmness when your muscles aren’t so sensitive to the pressure. This all-in-one massage kit from Travelroller is considerably handy.
2. Foam roll first. Seems counterintuitive, but if you’re only going to foam roll once a day, it’s smarter to do it before you play golf or work out. It’s true that foam rolling aids in recovery from the microtears to soft-tissue that occur when you play golf or hit the gym. But what it also does is make your muscles, ligaments and tendons more pliable. And that pliability translates into moving, swinging, etc., more dynamically. You’ll be able to turn off the ball better than ever and push your limits when exercising.
3. Focus on the Hs. Most recreational golfers suffer from tight hips and hamstrings—the “Hs.” This zone, including the gluteal muscles, are the ones you should focus your rolling sessions on. If you’re limited on time or don’t feel like doing an entire program, spend five minutes rolling your hips, hamstrings and your butt muscles. Waking up these prime movers in the golf swing will take a lot of stress off your lumbar spine.