I use a foam roller and other things that help

loosen up my joints and ligaments.

 ­­– Eric Koston

foam rolling.

The first time you see someone foam rolling it's probably going to seem pretty weird, but hang on with your judgements because rolling it out can have many positive effects on how you feel and how you skate.

 

Foam rolling is essentially a poor man's sports massage, it's a self massage technique that's easy to do and that leaves you feeling amazing. These days you'll find foam rollers everywhere; The Berrics, your local physiotherapist clinic, the gym, Chris Roberts’ living room, even your grandma's probably got one.

Having a quick razz on a foam roller can help prepare your body for a skate, keep you skating for longer, decrease muscle pain and other pains, and speed up recovery.

Watch the video or scroll to bottom of page to jump to rolling exercises.

what is a foam roller?

The most common types of foam rollers are either just basic cylinders of foam, or plastic tubes with some foam/rubber layer on the outside, normally about 15 cm wide and about 40 to 80 cm long. The surface of the foam can vary from regular, smooth foam to gnarly bumps and spikes designed to stick into your sensitive spots and make you squeal.

For hitting some areas it's easier to use some kind of hard ball, something like a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or a spiky ball like this one.

FOAM-ROLLER-WEB.jpg

You can pick up a foam roller for probably between 10 to 20 of whatever Earth credits you use. I got mine from eBay for 10€. The main thing you want to look for when buying one is that it's made from high-density/EVA foam. Or, instead of buying one you can DIY one with anything hard and tubey, like a hard plastic bottle, you could even cut a bit of guttering off the side of your house.

I'm personally more of a fan of the solid foam tubes as opposed to the spiky ones, but each to their own. Buy one from one of these links and I'll make probably about 7 royal British pennies:  USA  or UK.

when to get ya roll on.

before you skate.

Foam rolling can be a solid addition to a warm-up that can instantly leave you feeling fresher. Not only can it decrease aching from yesterday's session, it increases blood flow and temporarily increases the range of motion of your joints, along with reducing the perception of pain and stiffness.

 

Also if you’ve been skating or doing any other exercise the day before foam rolling has been shown to restore performance losses that can follow exercise, restoring things like strength, power, speed, etc. It’s even been shown to possibly slow down how fast you fatigue keeping you skating for longer and even reducing overall pain. 

I just want to quickly mention that a foam roller isn’t a magical tool that’s going to solve all your problems, if you’re eating shit, sleeping shit, not recovering properly, then a foam roller isn’t going to do much. Check out the skateboarding recovery series to see the things you should have on check alongside a bit of foam rolling.

after you skate.

After a big session your body can feel pretty destroyed, but, foam rolling's got you covered. Foam rolling right after your session and then again every 24hours can also contribute to recovery. Not only has it been shown to decrease post-skate muscle ache, but like I just said it’s also been shown to reduce some of the performance losses that follow a heavy session.

Rob Welsh foam rolling clip - Lakai: The Final Flare

before stretching or working out.

Foam rolling temporarily increases the range of motion of your joints. If you're trying to gain flexibility, rolling it out before you stretch can help you push each stretch a little bit further. Also when working out it's important that you're doing each exercise through as large a range of motion as possible. If you're lacking flexibility in certain areas and it's stopping you from moving through a good range of motion during an exercise, rolling it out just before that certain exercise can help you improve your technique.

for trigger points.

After an intense skate or just going about your normal life 'knots' or 'trigger points' can build up in your muscles, which are painful, sensitive parts of muscle, that can just feel uncomfortable and contribute to a feeling of stiffness. For a long time people thought trigger points were actually physically contracted parts of muscle that wouldn't release, however, these days science seems to be pointing towards them being more of a neurological issue, kind of meaning that it's all in your head... Regardless of what they are, rubbing yourself all over a foam roller seems to help to release them and reduce the pain. 

how to foam roll.

  • For each part of the body you're going to roll, move yourself about supporting yourself in different ways until you find the most comfortable position for you.

  • Roll up and down the whole length of the area and change the angle of the body part every now and then to make sure you're hitting every spot. For some parts of the body - like the soles of the feet - a hard ball like a tennis ball/lacrosse ball work better.

  • If you want to increase the pressure, put your weight more over the roller or place different body parts on top of the part you're trying to roll.​

  • To decrease the pressure just lift yourself up a bit. Foam rolling can be painful at times, not a truck to the shin kind of pain, but a 'good pain', if you feel like crying then you should ease off the pressure a bit.  ​​

  • When you're rolling, don't roll over your joints and do your best to split up each part of the body into separate muscles. In the same way you learn that you shouldn't apply Tiger Balm to your genitalia, you'll figure out where the different muscles are and what you shouldn't be rolling after you've been doing it by a while.

how long should you roll.

There isn't a completely agreed on length of time but in most of the research about 30-60 seconds per area has been used. If you're using foam rolling as part of a warm up or after your session, then go with this amount of time; unless you feel like you want to spend more time on a certain area then do it. 

The only time things change is when you're dealing with trigger points (those painful patches of muscle mentioned earlier). For these spots you want to stop on top of them for an additional 30-60 seconds or until the pain decreases. Try and breathe deep and relax whilst you're on top of these spots. I would recommend just ignoring these trigger points if you're foam rolling as part of a warm up, and just blasting each area for 30-60 secs.

Some research also showed a very brief increase in range of motion with as little as 5 seconds of rolling. So if you're using it to increase your range of motion for stretching or working out, then you could probably get away with a little less time for each area.

foam rolling.

calves 

Group of muscles in the lower leg

  • Place the foam roller under your left calf and your right leg on the floor next to it. 

  • Keep your leg straight and roll from just below the back of your knee to just above your ankle.

- Place your right leg on top of your left to increase the pressure.

Foam rolling for skateboarding
calves II

Group of muscles in the lower leg

  • Place the foam roller under the outer side of your calf with your right leg bent either behind or in front of you and your foot on the floor.

  • Keep your left leg straight and roll from just below your knee to just above your ankle.

- Place your right leg on top of your left to increase the pressure.​

Foam rolling for skateboarders
hamstrings

Group of muscles at the back of the thigh

  • Place the foam roller under the back of your left thig