Foam roller exercises can be an effective way of loosening and warming up your muscles prior to exercise and speeding up your recovery time after a workout. The effect they have is similar to a sports massage, but much more convenient and cost-effective as you can do the exercises yourself at home.
Foam rolling helps by increasing blood flow to the joints and muscles and improving flexibility. You’ll then benefit from a reduced risk of injury before workouts and reduced soreness and stiffness when you’ve been working your muscles hard.
There are several different types of foam rollers for using on different muscle groups and providing a range of pressure, so it’s worth investing in a couple of different ones. That way you can do a wider variety of exercises and opt for different intensities.
Try each exercise for a minute or two to start with and go slowly. It’s normal to feel a small amount of pain or discomfort while you’re working out the tension in your muscles, but if the exercise is very painful, try adjusting the position of the roller or just stop completely.
#1 Quadriceps Roll
This exercise helps to decrease tightness in your quads, which can take a beating in many different workouts including weight training, running, cycling, and playing football. You can do this exercise with a high-density foam roller or a low-density massage foam roller, depending on the intensity you want.
You can use the roller on your quadriceps either one leg at a time or both at the same time. The two leg version is a little easier and ensures you use equal pressure on both muscle groups.
- Lie flat on your front with your elbows bent and your weight resting on your forearms. The roller should be positioned under your thighs. Keep your legs straight.
- Keeping your core muscles tight, use your arms to push your whole body back and forward so that the foam roller moves from your pelvic bone to the top of your knees and back again.
#2 Upper Back Roll
Back pain is one of the most common types of muscle strain and it can be caused by poor lifting technique, bad posture or sitting for long periods. You shouldn’t do foam roller exercises on your lower back as this can make the problem worse. However, rolling your upper back can help to release tension in the neck and shoulders and soothe chronic back pain.
- Lie on your back with a foam roller positioned underneath your shoulders. For a more intense exercise, use a massage foam roller with bumps to access soft tissue areas close to the spine. Your knees should be bent, with your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your arms over your chest, reach them out straight towards your knees, or put your hands behind your head for a slightly different stretch.
- Tighten your abs and lift your hips slightly so that the roller moves from under your shoulder blades to the middle of your back. Hold for a moment and repeat. You can also shift your weight from side to side to work on different areas of your back.
#3 IT Band Roll
The Iliotibial Band or IT band runs down the outside of each thigh and is a common cause of knee pain in runners if it has been strained.
Foam rolling the IT band before running is an effective way to loosen up the area and prevent injuries.
- Lie on your left side, supported by your hands, with your left hip supported by a foam roller. Cross your right leg over your left, so the foot is flat on the floor.
- Push down with your left hand to roll your hip and thigh over the roller to just above the knee. When you’ve completed a minute or two on one leg, switch to the other side.
Stretch at Home
Orbit Fitness has a wide range of foam rollers and stretching aids to help you get the most from your home exercise routine.