Foam rollers have gained immense popularity in recent years due to the benefits they easily provide any athlete. Rollers are an easy way to achieve self-myofascial release (SMR), which is a technique used by massage therapists. To achieve this release, therapists apply a long duration dragging force across layers of soft-tissue in the body. After a period of time, the body releases the tissue and mobility between those sliding surfaces is restored. To make these changes on oneself, foam roll in place of a therapist’s hands.
Foam rolling causes increased blood flow throughout the body, better movement and increased range of motion. These benefits can decrease the chance of injury and recovery time after a workout. A decreased recovery time means more training sessions per week/month and results can come quicker. Ideally, one should foam roll both before a workout as part of a dynamic warm up and afterwards, but if you can only do it once, roll pre-workout. It will increase blood flow and reduce tension in your muscles.
Here are a few of my favorite foam rolling movements:
Our calves’ range of motion directly influences our ankles, so be sure to warm them up before a workout. To roll your calves, extend your legs on the ground in front of you and place the roller under your calves. Put one leg on top of the other, raise your hips and slowly roll back and forth. For more pressure, use a lacrosse ball.
Thoracic Spine (Upper Back)
Not only does this exercise feel really good (like you’re cracking your back) but helps to warm up your shoulders. Lay on your back with the foam roller underneath you and below your shoulders. Rock up and down your back.
The piriformis is a muscle located deep within the hip joint. I love this exercise because it really gets deep to release knots and tension. While rolling, if you feel a sharp pain, you’ve found a trigger point! Rest on this knot and work it out before moving on. To perform this movement, sit on the foam roller, cross one leg over the other leg’s knee, and lean to the crossed leg’s side. Put your arm behind the roller to stabilize yourself, and roll back and forth.
Probably the most popular foam rolling exercise, and for good reason! Place the roller under your thighs. Your legs should be extended straight out on top. Raise your hips off the ground and roll back and forth. Place one leg on top of the other for more pressure.
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