Cerno readers know, I’ve been through hell and back physically. Life in general seems pretty ordinary until it’s not. Health and the absence of pain are two things you don’t think about until they’re nowhere to be found.

Then health is all that matters.

In college, I “pinched” a nerve playing football. I re-aggravated it in my 20s and couldn’t leave my bed for days.

I eventually fixed it through a mixture of Active Release Therapy and self-myofasical release via foam rolling, but it hurt like hell.

I wrote in Gorilla Mindset

You cannot choose whether the pain is coming…Once you accept that pain is inevitable and leads to growth, you’ll be better prepared to endure winter.

Foam rolling is painful, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, but it is the pain you choose that makes you stronger and ready to deal with winter.

Here’s how you can use a foam roller to help fix nagging injuries, optimize your health and prepare yourself to get stronger.

What Is A Foam Roller?

A foam roller is just what it sounds like – a piece of rounded foam you use to work on parts of your muscle and massage and release your myofasical tissues. A cheap foam roller will cost you $20. Be careful that it’s not too foamy. If it’s too squishy, it might not give you the resistance you need. A good foam roller should be dense enough to hurt a little – like an intense sports therapy massage.

The brand I use is called Rumble Roller and costs about $45 for a smaller one. The edges are molded and it hurts in the best, worst way possible.

The trigger point therapy is another good one I have around the house.

My top 3 foam rollers that I use for this are:

You can also get a a lot of the same benefits of a foam roller by picking up a lacrosse ball from your local sporting goods store. They cost about $2 (but they somehow hurt even more). They’re really good for hard-to-get-to-areas like your hip flexors, scapula (shoulder) or even just to work out the tension on your bare feet throughout the day.

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

Most athletes will tell you that foam rolling has a lot of benefits. In addition to my fixing my body, foam rolling studies have shown that the benefits of foam rolling includes

  • lengthen and strengthen muscles
  • increase muscle flexibility and pliability
  • repair tight and fatigued muscles
  • relieve joint stress
  • re-train and return your body to it’s healthy state.

This study suggests that foam rolling can increase pre + post workout performance and improve range of motion. There are some debates as to how exactly foam rolling creates these benefits, but with few downsides and a variety of upsides, most studies are in favor of foam rolling in some capacity.

How To Use A Foam Roller (steal this routine)

The biggest mistake most people make when they use a foam roller is that they just sit on it and don’t know what to do. They spend the money on the foam roller and they sit on it, feel uncomfortable, and then it just sits in the corner collecting dust.

Having a structured routine can save you time and makes sure you actually do it

Here’s a routine I use to focus on my mid-to-lower back after I had a “pinched nerve” and had no success treating it.

Feel free to steal this and modify as necessary

-start on your back-

60 seconds on your right upper glute

60 seconds on your left upper glute

90 seconds on your full back (move your hands over your head to feel the stretch)

-flip over on to your stomach-

30 seconds on your right quad

30 seconds on your left quad

90 seconds (or as long was you can go) on your right hip flexor

90 seconds (or was long as you can go) on your left hip flexor

That routine will take you less than 8 minutes and if you spend any sort of time sitting down every day, I guarantee you’re going to notice a difference.

Not everyone is going to have the same issues, if you want a series of stretches and movements to get started, you can see come common movements and stretches below.

I can’t imagine my life before I found foam rolling. 5-15 minutes a day on this torture device changes my day and whatever pain I have to deal with is better than the daily hell I endured before.

You can find a lot of the movements to do online for free, but the most helpful thing to turn this into a habit is to have a tool that helps you stay on track.

I use an online app – MoveWell – which has a giant database of routines designed for specific problem areas. Most you can do in under 15 minutes / day.

You can try it out and get your first month for free here.

Give it a shot, plug in some binaural beats, bust out the foam roller and start putting yourself back together.

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