Don’t you hate it when you get injured? It’s worse when you know you’ve had a niggle for a while but haven’t had the time – or couldn’t be bothered – to have it looked at. So after you pull the pin on your run and start the long walk home – or call in a favour and ask someone to pick you up – you kick yourself for not doing anything about it.

And you promise yourself that next time will be different.

Between work, home, social commitments, kid’s sports, caring for ageing parents, spending time with your partner and trying not to fall asleep on the couch in front of the telly at night, it can be hard – if not, sometimes impossible – to squeeze your training in. And sometimes (other) important stuff like stretching, foam rolling and core training doesn’t even register on your radar. How many times have you got to Sunday night before realising you’ve hardly done any stretching this week? (Yeah, me too!)

But if you want to avoid the frustration and disappointment of injury and having to DNF this season, now’s the time to focus on it. Sure Christmas is a crazy time of year. But would you rather spend five minutes foam rolling and stretching after a training session, or an injury? I know which I’d choose!

Foam rolling is one of the single most important things you can do for your body. And while it might be more fun to buy a bike (or clothes or running shoes or gadgets), buying a foam roller is perhaps the single greatest investment you can make. It will help you to stay injury-free and training consistently – and isn’t that one of the best ways to deal with stress in your life?

Training gets all the blame

Ever spent a long day at your desk or behind the wheel of the car only to get a niggle in your shoulder during your swim squad that night? Sitting at your desk, slouching in the car or on the couch affects your swimming. It causes the muscles in your chest to get tighter while the muscles on your back and shoulders become weaker. Your chest and back muscles work together to keep you – and your shoulders in particular – balanced. So if your chest is too tight and your back is too weak, your shoulders become overloaded and will pay the price. This is just one way your lifestyle and posture can affect your training.

Likewise, if you’re too tight through the hips because you sit all day, it’s going to be difficult (if not impossible) to sustain a “torpedo-like” streamline body position in the water in your swim squad. So it’s time to…

Roll baby roll

Because you’re a busy woman and have very little spare time available, here’s a quick foam rolling routine that will take you a maximum of seven minutes. Yep, that’s it! It’s a basic program but it will help to relieve some of the tension and tightness through your body. This will help you to train consistently (with the added bonus that the consistent training will help you burn some stress – and calories – over the holiday period!)

Here are the five areas we’re going to target (in order):

 

Your lats” – The muscles which run from your arm pit and along the upper rib cage on your back.

1 - Lats
Used with every single swim stroke, they can also get very tight from everyday activities like driving a car or working at a computer. If you experience some shoulder discomfort or pain from swimming, it’s likely that you’re tight through this region. Spend at least 30 seconds on each side.

 

Your quads – Big strong powerful muscles that do a lot of work when you’re cycling and running; your thighs can also get tight if you spend a lot of your day sitting down.

2 - Quads

Spend one minute on each leg. 

 

Your booty – The most powerful muscle in your body – some of us have more than others, haha!

3 - Glutes
It’s one of the main muscles responsible for propelling you forward on the run and the bike. And it tends to be an area that occasionally gets stretched when you have the time and/or remember to do it!

But tight “glutes” can contribute to all sorts of injuries and niggles including to your legs (hello, ITB anyone?) and to your back. Spend one minute on each cheek :)

 

Adductors (aka inner thigh) – Now I should warn; at no point did I say that foam rolling is a pleasant experience… Adductors (or your inner thighs) are one of the most critical structures of your leg and contribute to everything from hamstring problems to ITB pain.

4 - Adductors

Roll only near your knee region. Find an ouchy spot (thats the technical term) and stay on it for about 30 seconds each leg. And don’t forget to breathe.

 

Calves – And last but not least, your calf muscles. If there is one body part that is probably stretched more than any, it tends to be your calf muscles. But it’s often hard to get into the tight spots.

5 - Calf muscles

Better to spend some time rolling your calf muscles on a regular basis than gripping the bed while being tortured during your next massage don’t you think? 

Spend 30 seconds on each leg.

 

And you’re done!

 

Two key points to remember ~

  • Notice I didn’t include your ITB on my list?That’s because I don’t recommend it. You’ll have more effective results from rolling your glutes (booty), quads and adductors (inner thighs) than you will from rolling your ITB. Besides it freaking hurts!
  • A foam roller isn’t a rolling pin; you aren’t rolling out pastry! So rest your body on a tight or tender spot for 30 seconds before moving onto the next spot.

 

This is a session that takes very little time but that will help you stay injury-free, train consistently, de-stress over the Christmas period AND set a new PB in your 1st race next year!

Go forth and roll!

 

Text by Jen Brown – Sparta PT

Model – Supportive Dude

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP Serious about what I do, but don't take myself too seriously

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