Some of you may have seen the foam roller at the gym and wondered what it is used for. It can be an intimidating piece of equipment for someone with no experience. Don’t be afraid, the foam roller is simply used as a form of self-massage. Many athletes incorporate it into their workout routine as a means of improving muscle recovery as well as loosening up muscle tightness (eg. Knots).
Here is a quick routine you can add to your daily workout regimen or whenever you need to release some built up tension. For each body part, complete 5-10 rolls, depending on tightness.
Calves – Sitting on the ground, slide the roller perpendicular to your body and gently massage both calves. You may be surprised at how tight your calves can be, especially if you have been doing lots of running and SAQ drills.
Hamstrings –With the roller in the same position as above (perpendicular to your legs), begin rolling out your hamstrings. For a deep massage, use the edge of the roller and massage just one leg at a time.
Glutes – This is a large muscle group and it may take some time to get into the trouble areas. Be patient and really work on this area, gently rolling in and out until you sense that you are hitting a trouble area. At this point, you may even want to pause on top of a knot for 10-20 seconds and allow the tension to release.
Quads and IT Band– The quads can be a painful area to roll out. When you incorporate lots of running/legs into your training regimen this area tends to get very tight. Start by rolling up and down the full length of your IT band. If you find an area that is especially tense, rest there for 10 to 20 seconds until the knot releases.
Hip Flexor – Use only the outer portion of the roller to target the front area of your hip. There is a small group of muscles here that can really benefit from getting loosened out with the roller.
Back – Simply lay on the roller and use your legs to roll your entire back up and down. This one always feels great.
Neck – You will have to adjust the angle of the roller to match the curvature of the muscles around your neck. Make sure you avoid rolling along your spine.
Try to incorporate this regimen into your warmup 2-3 days a week and your body will thank you. If you are doing it properly it will improve recovery and decrease muscle tightness/soreness.