5 Foam Rolling Tips For Crossfitters

January 06, 2019

The pre-WOD scenario at my box probably plays out the same as others; some start stretching while others grab a foam roller. But if you watch closely, a handful of people will position their foam rollers in a circle, using them as moving chairs while they gingerly roll out their glutes.

Foam rollers are so much more than just a place to hang out. Foam rolling, technically known as “self-myofascial release,” can help release tight muscles and return them to their normal function. If you have “trigger points,” or knots in your muscles, foam rolling can help release them. When you’re performing foam rolling exercises, keep in mind that you will feel some discomfort. You’re working on sore, tight spots, and it’s not going to be soothing. But you will feel better afterward. Here are five foam rolling tips to get the most of your pre-WOD chat and roll session.

#1 Isolate one side at a time.

For example, let’s look at your quads and hip flexors. It’s faster to just lie on top of the foam roller and push yourself around as you roll up and down both quads. But it’s far more effective to roll one side at a time. Lie facedown on the floor with the foam roller under one quad. Bend the other leg for some support, and lean as much weight as you can onto that one quad.

When you roll your calves (this feels amazing after a double under-heavy workout), cross one ankle over the other and use the pressure to relieve tension in the muscle. Isolate your piriformis by crossing an ankle over your knee and rolling out the glute on the same side.

#2 Roll slowly.

The general rule of thumb is to roll one inch per second. This ensures you can apply adequate pressure to the muscle. When you find a tight spot, pause and try to relax. Spend about 20-30 seconds on each area you’re rolling.

#3 Rotate your appendage.

To get the most out of your foam rolling session, slowly rotate yourself so that you’re getting the entire surface on the muscle. For example, if you’re rotating your quads, you can reach more of the area and soothe your hip flexors.

#4 Don’t roll a joint or bone.

This is kind of self-explanatory, but don’t use a foam roller over a joint or a bone. If you’re experiencing tightness in, say, your knee, roll out your quads, hamstrings, adductors, and IT bands, but stay away from the actual joint.

#5 Stop if there’s actual pain.

Foam rolling will be uncomfortable. There’s no way around that. But if there is actual pain, stop rolling immediately and see a qualified medical professional. 

Use the foam rollers for pre- or post-WOD mobility and muscle release. You’ll see a definite improvement in your mobility if you roll consistently.

This is a guest post from Christine Parizo, a half marathoner and new CrossFitter based in Houston. She recently qualified for guaranteed entry for the Houston Marathon and plans to run it in 2017. Christine blogs about running, CrossFit, and fitness at 
RunOutoftheBox.com. You can follow Christine on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.