Foam rolling aids in muscle recovery and releases muscle tightness after a workout. If you don’t have a foam roller, it’s a great investment as they are inexpensive and they contribute greatly to post-workout stretching and post-workout exercises. Your gym may have foam rollers for communal use, but foam rolling at home is a great practice to get into as well. Foam rolling is much less expensive than a deep-tissue sports massage, and yet the results are very similar.
Working out causes small tears under the skin and in our muscles, and this can reduce our mobility and cause long-term damage if left untreated. Foam rolling helps treat this damage and helps to manipulate and massage the body parts that were just worked out, allowing your muscles to return to normal function faster.
Foam rolling is also important for reducing soreness and boosting recovery. Lactic acid buildup in the muscles is caused by strenuous exercies, and can result in pain, cramps and soreness. The massage aspect of foam rolling helps to break down the lactic acid buildup. Here are some examples of what foam rolling is used for:
1. Massaging the calves
If you sit on the floor and place your foam roller under your calves, you can use your arm strength to lift your butt up and roll the foam roller from knees to ankles, massaging your calves and helping to remove mini tears. This may hurt after exercising in a way that worked out your calves, but it also feels great and you calves will thank you for it.
2. Rolling the glutes
Sit on your foam roller, cross one leg over the other, support your weight with your hands and slowly roll one glute at a time. When your workout involves a lot of squats and lunges, rolling your glutes afterwards is very theraputic for those muscles.
3. Quads and hamstrings
To roll your hamstrings, you will remain in a seated position and place the roller under your knees. Roll from knees to glutes, to massage out any tears in the hamstrings. When you are ready to switch and massage out your quads, simply turn over so that you are lying face down on the floor with the roller under your knees, and roll from knees to hips.
4. Lower back
Sit on the floor with your foam roller under your lower back, and your knees bent. Use your core muscles to roll your lower back up and down. This will feel like you are giving yourself a massage, and is a great treat for your muscles after a workout.
Your tired feet will love you for this exercise. In a standing position, place one foot on top of the foam roller. Roll back and forth, alternating pressure on the arch of the foot and ball of the foot. Switch feet and repeat.
Foam rolling can be used to release and restore many other muscles on the body as well, including the muscles in the arms, shoulders and neck. The many benefits of foam rolling, and the many variations of exercises you can practice with one foam roller is all the more reason to start including foam rolling in your practice today.