If you’re not using a foam roller, we have one question for you: why not? Maybe you don’t know how to use it, or what it’s for. Maybe you’ve watched someone roll on top of it while cringing and biting their lip and wondered “Why would someone do that?!” Maybe you just don’t buy the hype. So to answer your burning questions, here are three quick responses:
Yes, it hurts a little!
Yes, it works!
And yes, you should be doing it!
Foam rolling has become the way to perform self-myofascial release—a fancy term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. Basically, by applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of your muscles. Of course, getting a deep tissue massage is a nice way to go too, but it takes a lot of time and gets very expensive. For as little as $25 you can find a basic foam roller and in 10 minutes begin that well-needed release your muscles need to stay pain-free.
Here are six simple foam rolling moves that cover the majority of common muscle issues. For each move, spend at least 30 seconds rolling slowly and gently and if you find a “knot” in the muscle you are rolling, stop for a few seconds and let the roller apply pressure to that spot. It will be uncomfortable at first, but keep breathing and let the roller do its work. Momentary discomfort will lead to long-term relief! It will also make future workouts better and prevent injury in the long-run.
2) Walk feet slowly forward as the roller glides up your back. Stop and concentrate on any tight areas. (Note: do not foam roll the low back. Try a massage ball on either side of the spine to help relieve tight muscles.)
3) Move forward and back for 30-60 seconds.
2) Lift your hips off the ground and slowly pull body backwards so roller glides up your calf. Move back and forth gently for 30 seconds, stopping at any tight areas.
2) Keep right leg relaxed and long with the left knee bent over the roller and left foot on the ground.
2) Begin to press into the left foot on the ground, slowly moving the body back as the foam roller rolls down the right hamstring. Keep right leg relaxed as you roll.
3) Glide up and down the muscle for 30-60 seconds concentrating on any tighter areas.
4) Switch sides.
IT Band Relief
2) Bend left knee and place left foot in front of right foot.
3) Relax your right leg as you slowly roll yourself back so the foam roller glides up your leg. Move gently back and forth for 30-60 seconds, concentrating on any tight areas.
4) Switch sides.
2) Twisting slightly to the right, push slowly into your feet so your body begins to move back and the roller glides down along your lats on the right. Return slowly to start.
2) Repeat for 30-60 seconds concentrating on any tight areas.
4) Switch sides.
2) Slowly press arms to straight pulling the body upward and forward so the foam roller glides across the front of the thighs.
3) If you choose, you can lean your body weight onto one leg and roll and then switch to the other instead of rolling both evenly.
4) Gently continue to push and pull the roller over the thighs for 30-60 seconds, concentrating on any tight areas.
Try these rolling moves before and/or after any workout, or use them at home any time you need to release your tightness or knots. You can do them every day, but 2-3 times a week is recommended.