The Best Foam Rolling Moves (And Why You Should Do Them!)
If you are new to fitness, chances are you are also new to the concept of foam rolling aka Self-myofascial release. This is an important part of recover that shouldn’t be ignored, but many of us are unaware of how to do it. Self myofascial release is basically a self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. However, using a foam roller is by far the easiest method and one that I personally enjoy teaching my clients.
Foam rolling is best known for helping to ease “knots” or adhesions out of tight muscles and can dramatically help improve the soreness the next day after an intense workout. However, I won’t lie-it can be painful as you find a tender area within the muscle that needs a little bit of extra TLC! Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function and with out it, we can experience loss of flexibility, fascia build up, and painful movement.
You do not need any special instruction when using a foam roller-it is something you can do on your own and go by the way your body feels as you use it. I would suggest being very careful on tender spots and pausing for a few seconds over any knot or adhesion to help loosen it up. Remember to go slowly and be gentle-you don’t want to force any movement that feels extremely or abnormally painful!
Here are my 6 favorite moves for foam rolling at home:
Sit on the floor with your left leg bent and your right calf resting on a foam roller. Support yourself by placing your hands on the mat slightly behind you. Shift some of your weight from your resting left leg so you have some pressure on your right calf and roll yourself forward one or two inches so the foam roller gets closer to your knee. Slowly move the foam back to the starting position above the Achilles tendon. When you find a tight spot, flex and extend your ankle like your pushing down on a gas pedal. Repeat on the left side.
Sit right on top of the foam roller. You may extend your legs or cross your ankle over your knee. I personally like to extend one knee while bending the other for maximum control. Roll focusing on one glute at a time. Make sure to do both sides.
Lay down on top of your foam roller, with the roller positioned under your quads and just above the knees. It should be perpendicular to your body, and I find that a full-sized foam roller is better to use with the two leg variation. Now, with your body weight on your forearms, begin pushing yourself slowly backwards, so that the roller moves upwards towards your hips. You want to roll slowly, at around one inch per second. Once you reach about 1-2 inches from your hips, change directions and start rolling back down.
Upper Back Roll
To start, lie on the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees with feet flat on the ground. Your foam roller should be located underneath your shoulders, perpendicular to your body. Slowly push with your feet, so that you’re rolling up and down stopping at any tender areas. You may also roll all the way down to the top of the glutes if you would like to hit your lower back as well.
Get down on your knees with one arm extended in front on your body. Lay your arm on the foam roller placed in front of you. Firmly, but slowly, roll your entire arm over the foam roller crouching closer to the floor as needed. Stop at any tender spots for more focus.
First, lay down on your back, with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet flat on the ground. Lifting your head off the ground, place your foam roller under your neck – it should be perpendicular to your body, so it forms a cross. Then gently lie your head down, so that the foam roller is under your neck.
Now slowly roll your body forward and feel the roller putting pressure from the top to the base of your neck, stopping on the tender areas for 10-15 seconds. If you need to move the roller higher or lower, lift you head to re-position it.