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Foam rolling, also called self-myofascial release, is performed using a cylindrical piece of foam. There are many different ways you can use a foam roller, all of which are intended to release muscle tightness and tension, increase blood flow and increase your range of motion.
Foam rolling is one of the most important rehabilitation practices that anyone and everyone can and should be doing after every workout.
It works by applying pressure to specific points, often referred to as trigger points, where you feel the most pain or soreness. Since you are the one who feels the pressure of the foam roller, you can decide how much weight you put on it, according to the level of soreness and in which exact area.
When should you foam roll?
Foam rolling for a few minutes before any cardio warm-up or exercise routine and then for five minutes after your workout would be ideal. If there is ever a period of time you are feeling particularly tight at a certain trigger point, you can also foam roll right before bed.
Here is a short foam rolling routine that I follow, if an area is particularly sensitive or sore, you might want to spend more time on it.
Lay with your quadriceps muscles (top of your thighs) on the foam roller, supporting your upper body with your hands right below you. Begin to foam roll by pulling your body with your hands over the foam roller, stopping right above the knees and right below your hips. You can shift to one side to put more pressure on one side or the other. Proceed to slowly roll back and forth for 15-30 seconds.
Sit on the ground with the foam roll underneath your hamstrings (the underside of your thighs). Support your weight with your hands at each side. Begin by pulling your body back and forth to roll on the foam roller. You can lift one leg to put more pressure on a single hamstring at a time if needed. Proceed to slowly roll back and forth for 15-30 seconds.
Sit on the ground with the foam roller underneath your calves. Support your weight with your hands beside you when you begin to roll. Proceed to pull your body back and forth, putting as much of your body weight on your calves while foam rolling.
For even more pressure to foam roll your calves even deeper, cross your ankles over each other and foam roll one calf at a time. In this case, you will need to lift your entire body using your hands at your sides. Foam roll for 15-30 seconds.
4. Hip flexors
The position of the foam roll will depend on exactly where you have hip flexor pain. It could be directly on the top or on the side, where your hip flexors connect to your glutes.
Begin by placing the foam roller right where your thigh connects to your hips and lay on top of it. Unlike foam rolling bigger muscle groups, like your hamstrings and quads, your hip flexors are a much smaller area so you will only make small rolling movements. Slowly roll only a few inches back and forth and feel free to rotate your body more towards the side to identify where your hips feel the tightest. Once you have identified where you need to foam roll, hold this position for a few seconds then proceed to roll in small movements for 15-30 seconds per side.
Before performing this foam rolling move, be sure you have no back or spinal injuries. If you do, discuss foam rolling your back with your primary care physician. Lay with the foam roller under the middle of your back and slowly roll down so the foam roller ends up at your upper back. Use your feet to pull your body back and forth. If you feel uncomfortable rolling your back, you can simply place the foam roll under your back at specific points for 15 seconds. When foam rolling, foam roll for 15-30 seconds.
6. Stretch out abs
Lay facing the ground with the foam roller right under your hips or where is most comfortable to perform this movement. Your hands will be clasped underneath your nose, similar to a plank position. Begin by pushing your body back and hold this movement for five seconds. You want to focus on stretching out your abdominal muscles each time. Perform for a total of 15-30 seconds.
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