Rock and Roller

The Foam Roller can be a life saver when it comes to stretching and helping with minor injuries. Rolling your body over foam cylinders can improve flexibility, reduce post-workout soreness, prevent sports injuries and even alleviate chronic pain.The foam roller is a great tool for lengthening and elongating muscles and is especially helpful for runners who often suffer from tight and fatigued muscles. The foam roller will also massage the muscles intensely, similar to what a massage therapist will do without the cost to visit one.

Foam roller therapy is also often called self-myofascial release. It has been shown to improve range of motion in the knee and hip, and to ease muscle soreness after exercise. Myofascial release comes from a theory that pressure from the rollers breaks up tight spots in muscles and the connective tissue that surrounds them, the fascia. In combination with regular stretching, using a foam roller can be more effective in improving flexibility.

The foam roller should not replace proper stretching, warming up and cooling down, but it can be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility. By using the roller, you can help to also avoid injuries. The iliotibial band (IT band), the band that runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee is one of the areas in the body that can be prone to injury. By rolling the foam roller on the side of the leg (slowly back and forth) towards the top of the leg, specifically where the quad where it meets the IT band it will help to increase blood flow and circulation, aiding in healing and preventing injury.

Here are 4 Foam Roller Stretches to try:

Lower Back Pain
Looser hamstrings will help with back pain. Sit on a foam roller with your legs stretched out. Support yourself with your hands on the floor behind you. Position yourself so that the roller is directly under your hamstrings. Slowly roll forwards and back from the base of your glutes to the bend in your knee for approximately 30 seconds.

Runner’s Knee
Roll your iliotibial band (the muscle on the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee). Lie on your side and slip the roller under your thigh. Cross your other foot over and put it on the floor. Roll back and forth for 30 seconds from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee.

Tight quads can tug on your patellar tendons, causing pain around your knees. Lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs. Holding the body straight, roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh for 30 seconds.

Upper Back Pain
Lie on your back and place the foam roller beneath your neck, near your shoulder blades. Your feet and backside should be on the ground and your hands behind your head. Brace your abs and slowly work the roller for 30 seconds up and down from your shoulder blades to your middle back (not your lower back).

If you add the foam roller in combination with static stretching you will notice results. Massage your own muscles and boost your performance with a foam roller. Have your trainer work it into your warm up and post workout.

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Roll With It

There are many reasons why massaging out the tight knots in muscles is an important part of your workout routine, even if you already stretch regularly. No matter how much you stretch, there is a build of fascia that creates muscle knots that won’t go away, which can lead to many different problems.Regular use of a foam roller can:

  • Help prevent common injuries – foam rolling every day ensures you are massaging away fascia buildup in your muscles, preventing those areas from becoming injury trigger points.
  • Help you de-stress – foam roll your worries away, digging at those knots and releasing tension.
  • Keeps you flexible – building up your flexibility is key for any fitness routine.

Foam rolling is not just a massage tool either. Use it as part of your regular workout routine.

Try adding the foam roller to these common workouts.

  • Plank with a foam roller. Place your palms shoulder width apart on the foam roller. Stabilize the foam roller while you plank and hold.
  • Wall squat with the foam roller. Place the foam roller between your midback and a wall and squat down until the roller reaches your shoulder.
  • Push up and arm lift with the foam roller. Do a push up with one palm on the ground and the other on the roller. Push up and lift the roller until its parallel to your chest. Repeat with your other arm.
  • Bridge on the roller with leg extension. Make a bridge with your heels on the foam roller. Extend a leg straight up. Repeat with other leg.
  • Push up and leg lift. With hands on roller, do a push up. Lower your chest toward the roller, keeping your elbows in. Lift your right leg, and then lower it. Repeat the push-up, and then lift the left leg.

The foam roller is a great exercise tool to help strengthen muscles, prevent injury and can help overall fitness and ability. The more regularly you use a foam roll on your tight muscles, the less painful it will be. Roll with it!

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