Naughty cat is lurking in the foreground.

Naughty cat is lurking in the foreground.

What commonly prescribed pre-workout regimen caused an MMA fighter to threaten to burn down my house and made a retired Navy captain well up with tears?

Foam rolling.

It’s something we’re all “supposed” to do. We’re taught about it during our personal trainer courses. They talk about it and demonstrate it in fitness professional workshops.

But a lot of us don’t do it.

Why? First, it takes time. And second, it hurts.

I’ve only had one client consistently follow through with the foam rolling regimen I gave her.

I just kind of gave up on recommending it my clients because it turned into a weird push-pull dynamic in our relationship when they didn’t follow through. Maybe it’s lazy and unprofessional of me to give up, but I don’t even use a foam roll myself. I only have so many hours in a day. When it’s time to work out, I want to work out, not spend 15 minutes in agony rolling my muscles over a piece of foam.

That pain – caused in part by the pressure created as the foam roll breaks up adhesions in muscle and connective tissue – is a sign I need more foam rolling in my life, though. Chances are you do, too, if you work out regularly, have muscle aches/tightness, want to improve your flexibility, or generally use your body in any physical manner.

Good news! I have a solution. Last year one of my coaches suggested (for the nth time) I begin a foam rolling regimen.  I ignored her, but then she recommended a quicker method. I experimented with the technique a bit — which went contrary to everything I’d learned in workshops and during my personal training studies.

But you know what? It works, at least based my anecdotal experience. I did some more research and found that the quicker method is used by some other people, too. It might not get results as quickly as the traditional slow method of rolling, but it doesn’t hurt as much or take as much time! And because it doesn’t hurt so much, I actually do it! And I think you might too.

Try it for a week or so and let me know how you make out with it!

Below is a video of me blabbing about how to do it, with a demonstration. (Interesting note: I never realized how creepy it seemed to have three pets lurking in such a small area. Also, you will see how jerky my cats really are.) You might want to use the foam roller a wee bit more slowly than I did in the video. (Below the video is a cheat sheet outlining the foam rolling protocol.)

Note: people with certain medical conditions, especially conditions that potentially involve circulatory issues (such as diabetes), should check with their docs before foam rolling.

Cheat sheet:
1) Roll side of calf 5-10 times
2) Roll calf 5-10 times
3) Roll quadriceps muscle (front of thigh) 5-10 times
4) Roll IT band (side of leg, along quadriceps) 5-10 times
5) Roll inner thigh 5-10 times.
6) Roll hamstring (back of leg) 5-10 times
7) Roll glutes (straight leg) 5-10 times
8) Roll glutes/piriformis (bent leg) 5-10 times
Repeat on other side
10) Roll lats (side of upper back, below armpit) 5-10 times
Repeat on other side

Do this most days of the week.