Foam rolling, and other soft tissue tools can be pretty darn useful to the everyday person. If you don't make time or money for regular massage, it's nice to know there is a thriftier option available. It can be an invaluable tool in maintaining the function of your body tissues. The least you're going to do is promote some blood flow and produce some touch-induced analgesia.
I can't stress enough the importance of your intent while your massaging your tissues. Too often enough I see individuals just aimlessly rolling about with a casual grimace on their face. While any time spent is often good intentioned, we're trying to accomplish something here.
I picked up this first technique about 6 years ago from Kelly Starrett during one of his early mobility seminars. He calls it the "pressure wave", and we're looking to use a "pinpoint-focused approach to work through deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue". This should be your default approach to foam rolling.
- Target the gnarly area that gives you the most trouble.
- Relax over the targeted area. Try taking a few deep breaths.
- Slowly, with the weight of your body, smash up, down, and across that targeted area.
- Focus on that gnarly area, as it probably needs it more than the others.
- Relax, or your efforts will be futile.
- Move slow, as your tissues will yield to your efforts.
Your time is valuable, use it wisely.
Emile Maxwell Connaughton