5 Ways to Use a Foam Roller
Foam rollers are inexpensive and relatively easy-to-use recovery tools… that is if you know how to use ‘em. And don’t worry - you’re not alone.
Perhaps you have a foam roller. It’s tucked away under the couch or in the corner collecting dust. Or maybe you’re just looking for an all-around better way to recovery after your workout. Or you’ve heard about foam rolling but aren’t entirely sure what to do with it.
Foam rolling is essentially an affordable and convenient massage. By rolling over certain body parts, you can relieve that post-workout soreness through self-myofascial release.
What’s self-myofascial release? Myofascial release is a massage technique where moderate pressure is applied to the affected area. It helps relieve tightness and tension in the fascia tissue. The fascia tissue is a connective tissue that covers all your muscles. Normally it moves freely, but sometimes - especially after intense activity - areas can become tight or “stuck.” Myofascial release solves this problem. It further speeds up your post-workout recovery.
How Do You Use a Foam Roller?
Foam rolling doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, once you get the general idea down, you can apply it to various parts of your body. Brush that dust off! Here are 5 ways you can start using your foam roller today.
1. The Quadriceps
The quads are the front of your thigh. This area can become sore from lunges, squats, running, and many other types of activity.
To foam roll the quads, place the foam roller perpendicular to your thigh. Gently press your thigh into the foam roller. Use your hands to roll back and forth over the foam roller. It should feel like a “good pain.” If it’s your first time, try rolling for 30 seconds. Eventually, you can increase this to a minute or more. Make sure to listen to your body throughout the entire process.
2. The Calves
Been doing lots of heavy calf raises lately? Foam roll it out! To foam roll the calves, place one leg over top of the foam roller. Make sure the foam roller is positioned perpendicular to your calf. Gently use your arms to roll back and forth over top of the roller. Apply moderate pressure. If it feels good in a particular spot, you can stay there a little longer. Again, start with 30 seconds - and eventually increase your time to a minute or more.
3. The IT Band
For runners, the IT band is sometimes a problematic spot. If it is for you, grab that foam roller after your next run. Lie on your side with the foam roller perpendicular to your leg. Roll up and down on the side of your thigh - applying moderate pressure. Avoid going over the bony parts, such as at the hip and the knee.
4. The Glutes
The glutes are some of the biggest and strongest muscles in the body. Sit on the foam roller. Gently roll back and forth over the foam roller. If you find you want a little more, try using a tennis or lacrosse ball. This way you can really get into the tissue. You also have the option then to move side to side.
5. The Upper Back
Lie face up on the foam roller. To start, position the foam roller at the top of your upper back. Slowly push up using your feet. The foam roller should roll down your upper back, then roll back. Continue to do this for 30 seconds to a minute.
Foam roll for a better and more effective recovery. You’ll improve your range of motion, decrease your recovery time, reduce muscle soreness, and even decrease your risk of injury. Try it out today!