So you have probably seen those blue or grey tubey things that people roll around the floor on and thought to yourself, “What the hell are they doing?” They are foam rollers and are designed to help you loosen and soften your muscles to relieve pain and discomfort in various parts of your body.
If you have any of the following symptoms it's definitely time to start foam rolling:
✘ Back pain
✘ 'Pulling' sensation under your knee cap when walking
✘ Tight hamstrings (difficulties stretching)
✘ Neck pain (office job, anyone?)
✘ Shin splints
If you are new to foam rolling its best to start with a smaller, softer roller so you don’t feeling like you are smashing your legs with a mallet. Foam rolling is about releasing muscles and hitting trigger points in a tight or achy muscle by applying your own body weight over the roller and targeting a muscle or area for 30-60 seconds. Trigger points are little bound up pieces of muscle fibre that have not healed correctly (usually from injury or from being overactive and switched on). For example, if you have weak muscles in your back, your neck will be taking on more load to cope and will then develop trigger points that need releasing. Traditionally massage is the best way to release trigger points but not everyone has the time or money for a massage therapist frequently, so spending a good 15-20 minutes a day foam rolling can help ease headaches, pain in your lower back region, increase strength and reduce fatigue.
Ok, ok, ok, after all this blabbering lets get down to business. Here are 5 foam rolling exercises that can help you become more flexible, stronger and happier.
Place the foam roller on the ground and lay over it on your back starting at the base of your spine and slowly roll your back up the foam roller and let your vertebrae relax one by one. Once you have reached the top of the back, begin rolling back down to the bottom again! Repeat this for 30-60 seconds.
Sit up on the foam roller with your bum on top like it’s a chair, extend both legs forward and bent with your feet flat on the ground. Now bring one of you legs across your other leg, so your ankle is above your other legs knee and start bringing your foot that’s on the ground towards you until you feel a stretch in your bum. Now that its nice and tight start rolling back and forth slowly and repeat for 30-60 seconds and switch sides.
Still on the foam roller, cross your ankles over and extend your legs out all the way, start at the bottom of your… well bottom and roll down your leg till you get to your knee and go back up. Also you can roll side to side to hit different tendons.
ITB & Quads
To roll out your ITBs start by lying on top of the foam roller with the outside of your leg and roll between the top of the leg down towards your knee and then back up. After you've done that a few times start to roll over more (so that you are becoming closer to lying completely on your stomach) to target the outer quad, mid quad and inner quad. Time to roll over and pretty much do the same thing but on your front, start from your hip and roll down to your knee and back up.
Like the hamstring roll out, cross your ankles over each other and put the roller under your calf muscles and roll up and down from the knee to the ankle, have fun!
Now that you are feeling nice and your muscles are loose follow the stretching guide to get even more flexibility and recover better!