5 Foam Roller Power Moves to Tackle Tension and Soreness
Knowing how to foam roll properly is one of the keys to the fountain of youth. In order for our body to function at its optimal level, every cell needs to be nourished, fueled, healthy, and energized.
Over the last few years, we’ve been seeing everything from infrared saunas and cryotherapy to specific types of massage and detox novelties, but foam rolling requires minimal time, effort, and investment, all while bringing incredible results. Working on the fascia and muscle fibers, we’re not only reducing soreness and muscle fatigue, but also breaking down lactic acid, stimulating lymph flow (natural body's detoxing system), improving blood flow, and eliminating inflammation & stress accumulated in the body. Here are 5 foam roller power moves you can do in the morning after you wake up, after your workout session, or even in the evening before you go to bed.
Ain’t gonna lie, this one hurts in the beginning when you’re just starting to foam roll. It’s that “good kind of pain” you feel in a deep tissue massage, but it still takes time to get used to. Breathing deeply helps, as well as remembering something really obvious - you can control how much pressure you put! For some reason people seem to forget all about it and use their whole body weight on that roller, killing their poor quads.
First and foremost, make sure you’re somewhere in the center of the roller so you don’t slip to the sides. Square your hips and find good leverage on your forearms, pressing them firmly into the ground. Activate your abs to protect your lower back and gently start rolling up and down, massaging your whole muscle as you go. Try to relax your glutes and really feel the muscle getting warm and relaxed by repetitive rolling. Work on the whole muscle from the hip flexor to the knee, and stay for around two minutes before switching over to the other leg.
Glute and Hamstring Roll
Our glutes and hamstrings are pretty sensitive, but due to sedentary lives we all lead, extremely tight and one of the major culprits of lower back pain. Rolling them on the regular helps alleviate discomfort and tightness, brings relief to the hips and sacrum, keeps the blood flowing and reduces water retention. Once again, you are the one who controls how much pressure you’ll put so take it easy on yourself if it starts being too painful.
Using your upper body and arms as leverage, sit on the roller and cross one leg over the other. Isolating the muscles is the best way to make sure you’re really digging in and breaking down that lactic acid. Slowly start moving forward and backward, finding the right tempo. If you do find a really sore spot, stay on it for a few deep breaths and gently massage it by doing tiny circular movements until you feel the knot getting softer. Once done, extend the leg and roll the hamstring the same way you did with the quad - full extension, from the sitting bones to the back of the knee (avoiding the back of the knee itself).
Believe it or not, our calves are one of the most used muscles in our bodies, especially for them being so tiny when compared to the rest. Their optimal function is extremely important and keeping them healthy is crucial as majority of the people develop some sort of vein issues later in life. Making foam rolling a part of your daily routine definitely brings you closer to preventing tons of problems in the future. Whether you choose to focus on each one individually or work on them both at the same time is entirely up to you, due to the fact they’re pretty small in size. You can roll up and down, as well as make tiny moves side to side, massaging the whole area all the way to your shins.
Getting deep into our lats isn’t very comfortable and in the beginning, you might think you’re doing something wrong as this area of our body isn’t as muscl-y or as meat-y as our legs or our back. Finding that spot right under our shoulder blade is tough, but once you get the grip, it’s one of those power moves you never want to miss out on. Think of it more as a stretch than a roll, as focusing on extending the muscle as much as possible is the key in this exercise. Lie on your back and place the roller under your shoulder blade. Extend the arm and relax it completely, allowing the roller to settle in. Take a deep breath and use the other hand as leverage to push yourself towards your legs and stretch out the lat. Breathe into the stretch and slowly find your way up towards your armpit (avoiding the armpit itself). Take your time with this exercise as it’s a very delicate body part.
Working on the IT band is a definite power move, BUT it can be very easily done wrong. This is the part of the body which always hurts when you foam roll, and a lot of people tell you you need to feel the pain because it means you’re doing a good job breaking down knots and lactic acid. Well, since the IT band is not a muscle - it’s strong fibrous tissue, very similar to a tendon, rolling too much can irritate it even more and actually cause even more tightness and inflammation. Rolling over the IT band should be done after you’ve already worked on all muscles surrounding it (glutes, hips, quad, hamstring) and less than one minute on each leg.
When it comes to the duration of foam rolling, 1-2 minutes on each muscle is more than enough. Overuse of rolling can cause too much toxins to be released and increase inflammation in the body. As with everything else in life, moderation is key.