The process of foam rolling is not just for the professional and collegiate athletes, it has seeped into the mainstream of the fitness world!  The cylindrical foam roller (which is inexpensive to purchase) and accompanied by body weight, a person can perform a relatively quick form of self-massage, also known as myofascial release.

The fascia is what surrounds the muscle fibers and the fascia develops knots or adhesions through extensive physical activity, disuse, injuries, or not enough stretching.  The process of foam rolling helps break down these muscle knots and also helps break down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue, while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues.

Tips for proper use

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-Avoid using the foam roller on the lower back.  This area of the body is supported by spinal muscles which are hypersensitive and will contract quickly in order to protect the area.

-The process of rolling is a slow and deliberate one, if you are rolling too fast your brain will not pickup on the signals that the muscles being tended to need to relax.  Your muscles need to adapt to the compression.

Check you posture; you need to be stable and aligned properly while executing rolling patterns otherwise you might be over extending your effort and not targeting the sensitive areas.

-Do not spend too much time on certain knots.  If you put too much pressure on the area of concern, you might damage the tissue or adjacent nerves.

-Avoid rolling on the spots that are noticeably painful.  Set the stage by rolling out other areas first, which will set the stage for relaxing the muscles, then go to the areas that were noticeably painful at first and proceed to roll them out.

Rolling exercises that help take care of major muscles

Quadriceps

Lie face down on the floor.  Place a foam roller at our waist and rest your upper body on your forearms.  Now by extending and retracting your arms with shoulder movement, push yourself backwards then forwards the length of the front of your thighs.

Hamstrings

Sit on the floor.  Place a foam roller at the bottom edge of your buttocks.  Next place your arms back behind you and then lift your hips up and proceed to roll forward and back the length of your hamstrings by moving your torso forward and back through the movement of the shoulders.

Calves

Sit on the floor.  Place a foam roller at the back of your knees.  Next place your arms back behind you and then lift your hips up and proceed to roll forward and back the length of your calve muscles by moving your torso forward and back through the movement of the shoulders.

foam rolling routine_2

Chest

Lie face down on the floor.  Place a foam roller at our upper abdomen and rest your upper body on your forearms.  Now by extending and retracting your arms with shoulder movement, push yourself backwards then forwards the length of the chest/upper abdomen area.

Glutes

Sit on the floor.  Place a foam roller at the bottom edge of your buttocks on one side, then with the opposite leg place the foot on the floor and place that leg in a bent position.  Next place your arms back behind you and then lift your hips up and proceed to roll forward and back the length of your gluteals by moving your torso forward and back through the movement of the shoulder and by extending and flexing the leg that is bent.  Switch sides and repeat the process.

Inner thigh

Lie face down on the floor.  Bend one leg and point the knee at a ninety degree angle to your torso.  Place a foam roller in a vertical position on the inside of the leg and rest your upper body on your forearms.  Now shift your torso to the side of the bent leg, push yourself outwards then return to the start position.   Switch sides and repeat the process.

Upper Back

Lie down face up with your back on the floor.  Place the foam roller underneath your upper back and cross you arms in front of you, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back, alternate sides.

Latissimis Dorsi (Lats)

Lie down on the floor on one side.  Bend one leg (the one that is not close to the floor) and point the knee at a ninety degree angle to your torso.  Place a foam roller at the point of your lat in a horizontal position and rest your torso on the foam roller and support the upper body on your forearm.  Now extend the leg that is bent and move the torso up and down the length of the lat. Switch sides and repeat the process.

You should spend about twenty to thirty seconds on each spot that is tender, but not five to ten minutes.  Adding more time to an area does not mean better results.  What really matters is that you have an understanding of the origin of the pain before you start to roll.  Keep in mind what your objective is and stick with it.  Being consistent with the application of the foam roller will help you reap the benefits!

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