Foam rolling exercises are the in thing in the fitness world today.
Usually, while playing sports or working out at the gym, muscle fatigue and muscle stress is a pervasive experience—a good workout results in a muscle sore. We often leave it uncared and hope that the nutrition and the rest will set it right.
Can you believe there are some very simple exercises/massages when performed correctly, can relieve the sore and the pain very fast? Be it warm-up or post-exercise massage, foam rolling has become very popular.
Wouldn’t you want to know more about this? Please read on and get acquainted with a very efficient and effective massage technique.
What Are Foam Rolls?
According to Breaking Muscle, these are rollers of different sizes made up of foams of different consistencies and hardness. Usually, they come in different sizes, textures, and diameters.
It is gaining popularity as a massage and fitness aid. Also, foam rollers extensively used in Self Myofascial Technique (SMT). Myofascial is a strong and highly tensile underlying tissue that holds lots of muscles and subcutaneous members together.
Because of inflammation or fatigue, the myofascial develops kind of painful knots and constrictions. As a consequence, it loses its erstwhile flexibility. It leads to lots of pain and discomfort. Dehydrated myofascial is also very painful.
Generally accepted as a useful tool foam rolling aids to release the myofascial, of the stress and pain. Besides, hard to reach places and parts of the body get expertly massaged with the foam rollers.
What Happens When You Do Foam Rolling Exercises?
Foam rolling exercises use the bodyweight as the foam-roller dot com says. Therefore, it massages the tissues and the muscles with good pressure. It also helps break up all the adhesion and the painful knots in the tissues and myofascial. The evenly pressurized massage helps drain away from the toxins from the affected parts of the body. As a result, it loosens up the muscles and increases flexibility.
Foam Rolling Uses
- For warm-ups before exercise. It increases the blood flow to the tissues and the muscles. Foam rolling, along with the static warm-up exercises, makes the muscles smooth and pliable. Hence, the chances of injury reduction, exercise form, and quality increase substantially.
- It is also beneficial in the massage of the myofascial tissue when inflamed.
- It is a highly beneficial post-exercise massage to release muscle pain and sore. Besides, the post-exercise recovery of the muscles is faster with foam rolling. And, it manages the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
- To increase the flexibility and range of movement of the joints. As the regular, deep, and pressurized massage gradually increase the flexibility of the joints.
- To suppress the cellulite on the thighs, calves, and glutes. Foam rolling breaks up the cellulite and distributes it evenly all over the muscles. But this is not a permanent solution.
- To relax the body and help sleep better. Since the pain and soreness are relieved, and blood circulation increases, it feels very relaxing. Also, the person goes off to a sound sleep.
How To Use Foam Roller?
Before one begins using a roller, the size and the hardness of the roller should be selected. Generally, for the back, a wide roller of about 24-26 inches should do well. However, for the arms, shoulders, and the laterals, smaller length rollers of 12-13 inches would be more appropriate.
For a profound tissue massage effect, a hard and textured roller would be better. On the contrary, for a light massage rub, softer foams should serve the purpose.
The rollers provide the textured surface, and the bodyweight generates the pressure. So, the only way to use the rollers is to move the affected body part over the roller, kept on the ground. Note that the foam roller exercise can be done only on the floor mat. The use of massage tables or chairs will reduce the effectiveness of the practice.
Foam Rolling Exercises For Beginners
Ideally, mild to moderate hard roller foam is suitable for beginners. It will allow the body to get set to the feel and pressure of the rollers. Also, use smooth rollers initially, as the textured rollers may hurt the uninitiated. Thereupon, one can go in for the following exercises as a beginner.
THE UPPER BACK
Bad posture, repetitive engagement of particular back muscle, or workout will result in back pain and stress. However, it can be relieved by the foam rolling of the upper back.
- The roller used should be long enough to cover the whole back, widthwise.
- Place the roller on the ground and begin by lying down in a way that upper back positions on the roller. For best result, let the roller be just a little below the neck.
- Rest your back and glute on the floor.
- Then, keep the hands folded on the chest or locked behind the neck.
- Fold your leg to bring both the heels about 18 inches from your hips. Also, the knee should point straight to the ceiling.
- Further, plant your feet firmly on the ground and heave up glutes and the back, about 6 inches from the ground.
- In this position, the body should be supported just by the roller on the back and the feet.
- Slowly, push your feet to roll the whole of the upper back on the roller. Along with this, press moderately on the roller.
- Pull your upper back towards the feet, on the roller, to come back to the original position.
- Feel the pressure of the roller and the massaging effect it has on the back.
- If you hit any tender spot on your back, rub it down with a little extra pressure and mindfulness.
- Repeat the back and forth motion on the roller for about 30 seconds.
They are also known as the thigh muscles. Working for long hours on the desk develops stiffness of the thighs. But, you can overcome the pain and the stiffness by foam rolling
- Keep the foam roller on the mat.
- Position yourself for the forearm plank on the mat. Carefully, in such a way that the roller is directly below the quads.
- Then, lower the body from the hips to enable the quads to rest on the roller.
- With the firmly planted forearms, move the body back and forth. Also, ensure that the thighs or the quads rub on the roller with adequate pressure.
- If you are doing right, you should have three contact points of the body, the forearm on the ground, the quads on the roller, and the toes on the ground. For additional pressure on the thighs, one can lift the toes off the ground. Also, keep the legs straight.
- Move back and forth on the roller with good pressure on the thighs for about half a minute.
THE HAMSTRING FOAM ROLL
Behind the thighs is the hamstring muscle. Since it is a big muscle, it can develop painful conditions. Typically, after the leg workout, the recovery of the hamstring would be quicker with a foam roller.
- Sit on the mat with the roller under the hamstring of one leg, which is kept straight.
- Then, keep the other bend at the knee and the heel planted firmly on the ground.
- Let both the hands rest on the ground, behind your back.
- Now, with the support of hands and bent legs, move the hamstring of the straight leg back and forth on the roller.
- With the manipulation of the hands, you can slowly exert the desired pressure on the hamstring to press on the roller.
- Repeat the same procedure with your other leg.
- Alternatively, both the hamstrings get massaged at the same time. To do this, keep both the legs straight and positioned on the roller. With the hands move the hamstring on the roller.
- Note that the heels should be off the ground.
- Continue massaging 30 seconds for either leg.
CALVES FOAM ROLLING
To perform the calf rolling:
- Sit down on the mat with both the legs extended forward.
- Now, place the roller under both the calves.
- Next, place the hands on the ground just behind the back for support.
- Raise the body by pushing on the hands and slowly roll the body forward on the foam roller.
- Also, ensure that only the calves come in contact with the foam roller.
- Rollback and forth for half a minute, and the calves will feel de-stressed and relieved.
- In one of the variations, when higher pressure exerted, one leg crossed over the other leg, and only one leg rolls on the roller. The positions of the legs reverse in the next sequence.
Other Foam Rolling Exercises
With the help of a foam roller, you can perform several exercises for various types of muscles. Additionally, some mentioned below. They may not be needed so often. But they can be beneficial at times.
These muscles are on the front top of the thigh, which connects to the hips. Mostly, the Hip flexors are kind of neglected muscles and not very often exercised or massaged.
If they stress out or become painful, try foam rolling
- Take the position of the forearm plank. Now, place the foam roller under the Hip flexor of the left leg.
- Bend the right leg away at the knees.
- Then, with the forearms as the anchor, move the left hip back and forth on the foam roller.
- Exert sufficient pressure on the thighs to get the desired result.
- Keep it going for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat the entire process with the other legs.
That is the acronym for iliotibial band muscles. It stretches from the hip along the side of the thigh to the knee.
Typically, this muscle is known to have lots of stress and adhesion knots. To massage the IT band;
- Position yourself as if for side plank.
- Next, place the foam roller under the side of the right thigh
- Balance the upper body on the right forearm.
- Then place the left leg sideways on the right thigh or bend it away in the front.
- Now, using the forearm as the fulcrum, pivot your body back and forth, slowly rubbing the sides of the thigh on the roller.
- Continue doing that or about half a minute and repeat it on the other side (the left thigh)
SHOULDER FOAM ROLL
The shoulder very often stiffens up or develops pain. Hence, shoulder foam roll can be an excellent post-workout massage for better muscle recovery. For this,
- Lie on the left side of your body with the foam roller exactly under the left shoulder.
- Pressurizing the roller with the shoulder, move it back and forth on it.
- You should feel the squeeze on the shoulder muscles.
- That breaks up all the adhesion, knots and relieves the stress.
- As with any other foam roll, do it for 30 seconds.
- Repeat it on the right shoulder.
Disclaimer And Safety Reminder
The foam rolling exercises can be painful, mainly if you are a beginner. Therefore, use the right kind of roller, with an appropriate hardness that suits you.
An extra hard roller can cause injury or damage. Also, it is essential to do the foam rolling very slowly without any jerky movement. It is always better to start foam rolling under the guidance of an expert or trainer.
In case you feel undue pain or discomfort, discontinue the foam roller and check with your doctor.
Foam rolling is beneficial for many people and can work with you as well. But, it is always better to adapt to it gradually and with necessary caution.
As with any massage, remember to drink the right amount of water after the rolling foam massages. That will help flush away all the body toxins.