Sore, tight knots and muscle stiffness are common reasons to avoid working out. Foam rolling is becoming a popular solution to this problem. Plus, it’s fun, easy and a lot cheaper than a sports massage!
Foam rolling is basically self-massage using pressure from foam rollers to relieve tension and tightness in the muscles. It can also boost your flexibility, balance and improve tissue quality. You’ve probably seen foam rollers at gyms even if you haven’t personally used them.
You use your own bodyweight to apply pressure to the area that hurts by lying and rolling on it. This helps to iron out the knots in your muscles by breaking up any adhesions between the layers. It can be uncomfortable but you are completely in control of how much pressure to apply.
Go gentle on any areas which really hurt by supporting your weight. Gradually add more weight as the muscle relaxes. Do each foam rolling exercise for about 10 rolls, or up to 2 minutes. Depending on how tight you feel, you can roll every day if you wish.
The quadriceps are easy to roll but need to be broken down into four sections. Simply lie on top of the roller using your hands for balance. Roll the front of the thigh from the hip to the knee to work the anterior muscles. But don’t forget the medial and lateral quads. It’s these parts which often contribute to ‘runner’s knee’ so it’s worth focusing on them. To target the medial quad rotate your legs away from each other. The lateral quadriceps are worked by shifting your body slightly so the outside of the thigh is on the roller.
It can be slightly tricky to apply enough pressure under your calves. Using a larger foam roller can help with this. Place the roller under your calves and move forwards and backwards, rotating your legs inwards and outwards to get all sides of the muscle. If it doesn’t feel like enough pressure you can cross one leg over the other to push down. You could also try using a tennis ball rather than a foam roller.
These are the muscles along your inner thigh. Lie with one leg turned out and the other inner thigh on top of the roller. Roll up and down the muscle. Yes, it’s awkward but it’s worth doing. Tight adductors can inhibit your glutes and keeping them loose is fantastic for your hip mobility.
Start with the roller underneath the back of your hamstrings. Lift yourself up on your hands and roll your legs forwards. Allow the roller to move all the way along the muscle towards the back of the knees then roll backwards towards the buttocks.
Tight glutes can cause a lot of pain in the knees and back so it’s well worth working these. Sit on top of the roller with one leg crossed over the other. The roller should be at the top of your glute muscle towards your lower back. Lean slightly into the leg you’re targeting. Roll down the muscle. A few inches is enough. Anymore and you will fall off!
Image credits: by fitwirr.com
by Kath Webb
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