Foam Rolling - Let's Rock and Roll!
Foam rolling is a popular technique used by personal trainers to improve a client's flexibility, recovery and athletic performance. When you lie down on a foam roller, you are doing a lot more than just sliding around on the ground. On a physiological level, the compressive forces of foam rolling move hydrating fluid in your fascia (the tissue that holds your muscles together) and lengthen your muscles by relaxing certain receptors that help control length and tension of your muscle fibers (don't worry, you won't be quizzed on that!). Foam rolling is typically used during warm-up and cool-down routines and its benefits are vast, including but not limited to: increased range of motion around a joint and reducing the effects of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness from a hard workout). It’s important to know that there will be some discomfort while you're foam rolling when you get to an area that really needs it. However, you need to be able to relax into the roller to get the full benefit of foam rolling, so it is important that you don't just go for the super hard one right away! Choose a softer roller if you're new to foam rolling and work your way up to the higher density roller as you get more comfortable with it. For the best results, foam rolling should occur daily, spending 20-30 seconds on each area. Try rolling out these 5 areas to enhance your exercise routine!
Benefits of Rolling Back Muscles (Upper Back, Mid Back, Lats) - For those who wake up with a stiff back, have a tough time standing or sitting for a long time, or sit for long periods of time for work, rolling out your back is something that could help alleviate tightness or pain.
Begin by lying on your back with the foam roller positioned underneath your upper back. Your knees should be bent with your feet flat on the floor and your arms can either be down by your sides or crossed in front of your chest.
Brace your core and lift yourself up into a shallow bridge position
Slowly start to roll up and down between your lower neck and mid-back, stopping at tight areas along the way.
Repeat for 30 seconds. Move roller lower on your back if needed.
1. Begin by lying on your back at a 45-degree angle with the foam roller positioned underneath your right armpit. Keep your right leg straight and bend your left leg into a comfortable position.
2. Slowly start to roll from your right armpit down to your mid-back area, focusing on tender areas.
3. Repeat for 30 seconds.
4. Switch to roll out your left lat.
Benefits of Rolling Glutes/Piriformis - Tight glutes can be the cause of a lot of pain elsewhere in the body, especially in the knees and the lower back. Foam rolling the glutes can release these trigger points, allowing for pain-free movement. If you have sciatic pain, this foam rolling exercise is a must!
Sit on the foam roller and cross one leg over the other.
Lean toward the leg that’s crossed, using the same-side arm to help you balance, and shift your weight onto the large muscles of your glutes.
Gradually roll your hips to work out the kinks on one side before switching to the opposite side.
Benefits of Rolling Hamstrings - The hamstrings are another part of the body that become tight if you are sitting all day long. It can help relieve back pain and knee pain as well.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended. This time, position the foam roller underneath the back of your thighs.
Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller and begin to slowly roll up and down between the back of your knees and your glutes.
Linger on tender spots, and roll for at least 30 seconds overall.
TIP: An alternative way to complete this is to again cross your legs and focus on one hamstring at a time.
Benefits of Rolling Quadriceps/ Hip Flexors - The quads and hip flexors are commonly tight muscles due to long periods of sitting, and can cause low back pain, knee pain and an anterior pelvic tilt (arched back). A great alternative to performing a static quad stretch if you cannot reach your ankle due to limited knee range of motion is foam rolling your quads.
Lie face down with the foam roller up near your hips. You can either do one leg at a time or both.
Work the roller down to just above the knees.
TIP: As the quads are a very large muscle group, you will want to hit different angles on the foam roller by turning your feet both in and out. You will need to do one leg at a time when working the various angles
Benefits of Rolling the Calves - Tight calves are a main cause of limited ankle mobility and, as a result, is one of the leading causes of bad squat form. There is also an increased number of falls in seniors who have tight calves. Rolling out the calves can also help with plantar fasciitis and shin splints in athletes.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended, the foam roller positioned underneath your calves.
Lift your body up so your weight is resting on the foam roller. Cross your left leg over your right for extra pressure.
Begin to slowly roll your right calf back and forth on the foam roller, navigating your body forward and back by pushing the ground with your arms.
Complete for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
TIP: You should also hit the inner and outer areas of your calves by turning the leg in and out. For most people, the inside area of the calf is the tightest.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed your foam rolling tutorial! If you have any questions about foam rolling, please leave a comment and I will be happy to get back to you.