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The foam roller is an excellent tool to have in your fitness toolbox. It can be used for self-massage on almost any stiff body part, to break up ‘knots’ in muscles, or to help relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from our regular exercise routines. The foam roller is used to perform a technique called Self-Myofascial Release, which is very similar to deep tissue massage (and a LOT less expensive!) Using the foam roller for this type of self massage can help with muscle relaxation, allowing for a deeper stretch and improved range of motion. It also improves blood flow and circulation to the muscle tissues allowing for faster repair.
It’s best to perform foam roller exercises after a workout or on a rest day. You may find that massaged muscles are particularly sore the day following the foam roller exercises.
The hamstring muscles are chronically tight for many of us, and they can benefit from a deep tissue release from time to time. There are a few ways to use the foam roller on hamstrings. You can roll both legs at once by sitting on the roller and supporting yourself with both hands while you roll back and forth. When you find a tender spot, remain on it perhaps moving more slowly to deeply massage the area. You can get a deeper massage on a single leg by crossing one leg over the other with the leg you wish to massage on top of the foam roll. You can also play around with position to get the inner or outer parts of your hamstrings involved in the massage.
While foam rolling the quads can be a painful experience, it’s incredibly effective at breaking through stiff muscles in this area. Facing downward, lay with your hips on top of the foam roller. Roll back and forth targeting the tops of your quadriceps first, and then rotating your torso slightly to hit inner and outer sides of the quadriceps muscles. The foam roll is also great for the IT bands which run along the outermost edge of your legs from your hips down to your knees. To target the IT band, lay sideways with your hip on the foam roller and roll up and down the outer leg. This could be quite painful, so be sure not to overdo it.
Sharp pain through the middle of the glute may be indicative of an inflamed piriformus muscle, which can in turn compress the sciatic nerve causing sciatica. Foam roller exercises can help alleviate sciatic pain by relaxing the muscles around the sciatic nerve. Sit on top of the foam roller with your weight on one of your glutes and toward the side of that glute. You can also cross one thigh onto the other to apply additional pressure. It’s best not to roll directly on the center of the glutes as this may further compress the sciatic nerve. Roll gently back and forth over the most sensitive spots to work sore areas.
4) Shins and Calves
For runners and those of us who do some amount of cardiovascular conditioning, we may experience pain in the shins or shin splints from time to time. You can use the foam roller to work out shin splints by kneeling on the floor with one shin on the roller. Be sure to keep the roller on the muscle and not on the shin bone. Start below the knee and finish above the ankle.
To target the calve muscles, sit on the floor with the calve of one leg on top of the foam roller. Place the other leg on top of the first leg, and lift yourself slightly off the floor with both hands. Begin to roll the calve muscle up and down over the foam roller, spending extra time on particularly painful areas.
Lay on top of the roller with your shoulders resting upon it, hands behind your head. Walk yourself back and forth with your feet to release the muscles in the back. To get the sides of your back, lean to one side angling your knees the same way. You can also focus in on some of the lower back muscles just above the gluteal muscles.
Finally, you can do a spine stretch using the foam roller by laying on top of it lengthwise so that your spine is parallel and on top of the length of the foam roll. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground and your arms at your sides. Remain here without rolling for a few moments, and enjoy the stretch!
At Athlean-XX for Women we recognize the importance of stretching and self massage, especially after our challenging and super effective 30 minute circuit training workouts. At the beginning of each 30 minute session there is a 5 minute warm up before and a brief stretch afterward. We encourage you to care for your body by performing extra foam roller stretches.
Curious about the concept of training just 30 minutes per day? Our Athlean-XX for Women workouts are fast paced so that you’re reaping both strength training and cardio benefits with each workout. With Athlean-XX for Women, 30 minutes per day really is all you need! Want to see what 30 minutes per day can accomplish? Check out our amazing SuXXess Stories! Will you be NeXXT? Join us on Team Athlean today to start YOUR transformation!
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