Looking for relief from muscle stiffness and pain or having difficulty extending your body fully when exercising? Try a foam roller. Foam roller is an amazing, simple tool that can dramatically affect your health, fitness, and associated pains.
These 5 moves to do with a foam roller will target some of the tightest muscles in your body in order to improve your circulation, increase your range of motion, and release any tensions that are holding you back.
1. Glute Stretch
Office workers, weight-lifting gurus, and bikers unite! When you spend a lot of time sitting on your Gluteus Maximus (especially if you bend, hunch, and otherwise require your rump to bear the weight of extensive motions while sitting), your glutes get sore. More than that, your glutes get tight. It gets harder for you to fully extend and use the muscles tied to your glutes.
- Sit on the roller as if it is a chair, and place your right foot on top of your left knee.
- Place your hands on the ground behind you.Lean toward your right side and slowly roll the foam underneath the meatiest part of your glutes.
- Switch sides a couple of times, being sure to roll slowly for optimal results.
2. Quadrilateral Pulls
Your upper legs are under a lot of pressure throughout everyday activities –and definitely during work outs. To help relieve tensions in your quads, try quadrilateral pulls on the foam roller.
- Extend yourself, face down, on top of a foam roller as if you are about to do a pushup.
- Lower yourself until your elbows and forearms are supporting your upper body weight.
- Make sure that the foam roller is beneath your upper quads and that your toes are pointed to the floor.
- Use your forearms, slowly and gently, to pull yourself forward and push yourself backward so that the full length of your quads are pressured by the roller.
3. Calf Strengthening
You know how the back of your legs feel after a jog, a lot of jumping, or too many squats? Performing calf strengthening rolls will help relieve that pain. The strengthening exercise will stretch out your aching calf muscles and improve circulation in that region, which is a prime candidate for poor circulation.
- Get on the floor in a crab walk position.
- Extend your legs over the foam roller, with the tool resting just beneath your ankles.
- Cross one leg over the other and tilt to one side.
- Begin rolling slowly, using your arms and hips for momentum and making sure to roll the length of your calf.
- Tilt to your other side and repeat.
- Switch legs and repeat the full exercise slowly and gently.
4. Shin Squats
Although you may not notice any distinct pain in your shins, it is important to roll your shins because the muscles running throughout your legs effect the muscles in your feet, hips, and back.
- Squat on the floor with the foam roller in front of you.
- Lean forward onto the roller, with your legs completely bent and your hands out in front for support.
- Slowly roll by pulling your knees towards your hands and then away from them.
- Very gently roll back and forth in this motion for a full minute, occasionally leaning to the side in alternating directions.
5. Upper and Lower Back Bends
Whether you’re sitting, standing, or in motion, your back has to work hard to support your whole body and keep you balanced. Plus, your back acts as the epicenter for all the pressures and motions of your leg, arm, and neck muscles.
To give your back a healthy massage and relief from all that tension, you can perform upper and lower back bends. Just be sure that as your perform these stretches, you lean to the side so that the roller puts pressures directly on your meaty muscles and not on your spine.
- Lay, face up, on the floor. Place the roller under your upper back.
- Bend your knees and extend your arms behind you for support.
- Tighten your abs, and, using your hips, ease the roller back and forth along your upper back, alternating leaning toward one side at a time.
- Next, move the roller under your lower back and extend your arms out to the sides. Repeat the exercise.