Foam rollers are a great fitness tool that have a wide variety of uses. By gently “rolling out” pressure points on a foam roller, you can help lengthen and stretch your sore muscles, improve elasticity, relieve pain or tension and even prevent future injuries.
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Most gyms have foam rollers available, but you can also buy your own in a sporting goods store or online. (They’re relatively affordable, too.)
Try a few of these techniques next time you exercise to increase your flexibility and reduce pain. Do these exercises after a particularly gruelling workout or if you’re feeling sore.
This is stretch that will target your adductor muscles on the inside of your legs.
- To perform the move, lie face down on the floor or a mat with one leg on the roller.
- Rotate your leg so your inner thigh is in contact with the roller, then put as much of your weight onto the roller as you can.
- Relax your thigh, and roll the foam roller between your hip and knee slowly for about 10-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
This one will target your hamstrings.
- Start by sitting down on a mat with your legs over the foam roller.
- The roller should be just above the back of your knees.
- Place your hands on the ground behind your for support, then lift your hips off the floor and shift your weight onto one leg on the roller.
- Relax your hamstrings, and roll your leg over the foam roller from just above the back of your knee to below your hip for about 10-30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Lower Back Roll
This is a great move to do if you have lower back pain.
- Start sitting down, with a foam roller just under your lower back.
- Cross your arms and pull your shoulders in, then lean back and lift your hips off the floor, so your weight is centered on your lower back, which is resting on the foam roller.
- Shift to one side, then roll over your lower back slowly for 10-30 seconds, before shifting to the other side and repeating the same process.
This move targets your glutes to reduce tension and stress.
- Start by sitting with your butt on a foam roller, with your knees bent.
- Cross one leg so your ankle is over your opposite knee, then shift your left onto the side of your crossed leg.
- Roll over the buttocks on that side slowly for 10-30 seconds, using your hands to pull on your knee for support if necessary.
- Switch sides and do it again.
Middle Back Roll
This move will target your middle and upper back and take care of any tension or knots there.
- Lie down on your back on a mat, with a foam roller under your upper back.
- Cross your arms in front of you, pull your shoulders in, and lift your hips off the ground.
- Shift your weight over to one side, and slowly roll across your middle and upper back for about 10-30 seconds, then shift your weight to the other side and do it again.
This is move is for people who often get calf cramps. Once you start rolling out your calves, your cramps may disappear entirely.
- Start by lying on your side, with your weight on your lower forearm and a foam roller, which you should have placed on the outside of your lower leg.
- Set your top leg directly on top of your lower leg.
- Raise your hips off the ground and slowly roll from below your knee to just above your ankle for about 10-30 seconds.
- When you are done, switch to the other side and do it again.
Exercise Caution During Foam Rolling Exercises
Although most physical therapists and coaches will recommend foam rolling, not everyone agrees. Some people think you should only roll certain muscles and leave others alone. Others believe that foam rolling is pretty much a universally good idea, as long as you exercise caution and use proper form.
Like so many fitness trends, it is really up to you to do the research and decide for yourself whether foam rolling is right for you. If you do decide to use a foam roller, make sure to be cautious during each movement. If you begin to experience a lot of pain, stop what you are doing immediately. Using a foam roller can be great for working out knots and lengthening your muscles, but like any exercise, it can be done incorrectly. If you are not sure how to do a certain move, consult a professional. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to avoiding and treating injuries.