5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Foam Roller
Stress is inevitable - Especially when you hold it in and don’t know how to release it. For some people, stress relief is running, while others feel they need to meditate to remove irritation from their lives. For athletes, performers and movers, an effective way to release stress is to roll it out. Stress is usually held in the body, the same way guilt forms discomfort or aches. You probably feel tightness and do not even know where it came from. However, Foam rollers are special tools to massage the body and help return contracted muscles to their natural state. You can purchase these online or at your local Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens, to name a few easy-access locations.
Once you have your foam roller, use these tips to release that stress and feel amazing!
#1 – Roll out the back of your legs after stretching
Our hamstrings tend to get tight or sore depending on how you sit for work and how much you work out your legs on a regular basis. Stretching them prior to rolling or massaging can be helpful. Stand with your legs parallel hip – width apart and bend at the hips towards the toes. Hang for about a minute or so to stretch the hamstrings and calf muscles. After stretching you can roll the back of the legs out by putting the foam roller on the floor and sitting with your legs parallel on top of the roller. Use your arms to lift you up and slide your body forward and backward while keeping your legs straight but not locked until you have covered the entire surface from hamstrings to calves. You can also do you leg at a time depending on how flexible you are.
#2 – Be warm before you roll
The trick to get into the deeper tissue is heat. Your body should feel and be warmed up prior to deep stretching or in this case, using a foam roller. In order to do this, you can either, take a hot shower and use your foam roller immediately after, or you can do a basic workout followed by a cool down stretch with the foam roller. Heat helps the muscles expand, wear as cold contracts the muscles and rolling or massaging can be painful, even dangerous at times. If you attempt to use the roller after showering, make sure to leave your skin dry. This way you can protect your foam roller from lotions or oils being applied to the skin. Whichever way you prefer to heat up muscles that need rolling, feel great knowing you are taking action in releasing that stress.
#3 – Roll with the wall
Some tight muscles need more pressure than you can manage without assistance, but pressure on your back or neck can be adjusted by pushing against the foam roller set up on the wall. This is the easiest tip, but can get tricky. Find a wall without anything hanging too low and place the roller horizontally at the height of your neck. Holding it with your hand until your back is against it, then push back onto the foam roller and wall as you move the roller over the desired part of the body. Make sure to take your time with this one and notice tension in other parts of the body and you try to relax your backside.
#4 – Neck and shoulders matter!
Roll out your beck and swing your arms in a circle to warm those muscles up and then gentle use the opposite hand as your rolling side to roll out the tight muscles. Heat up a towel and place it on your shoulders and neck before rolling for better results. Depending on how tight those muscles are, you may have to do this one multiple times or get someone to help roll it out for you as you try to relax the neck. Most of our tension stays in our shoulder and neck. We shrug without realizing it and you feel like you worked out those muscles without moving from your desk.
We look down at our phones the majority of the day and it is affecting our neck, shoulders and posture. Be mindful of how your body is holding itself when you are in autopilot throughout the day.
#5 – Get on the Floor and roll it out
The last and best tip for rolling out the stress is to lie down on the floor. Yes! Just lay out a towel or yoga mat and remove any loose clothing. Start at the top by your neck, breathe in and out about 3 to 5 times slowly then move it down to the next vertebrae. SKIP YOUR TAILBONE. That bone does not need to be messed with. So, once you have reached your lower back （lumbar）, move the roller down to the gluteal muscles. This can be a bit tender for the backside, so be gentle and allow yourself to relax as you move it down your hamstrings then down to your calf muscles. Enjoy laying down on the floor while administering your own customized massage. You will not regret it!
Foam rollers are magical and super beneficial if you use them the right way. Making sure your body is ready to be rolled and massaged is the first step. Figuring out what part of the body is tight and holding onto stress is the first step that cannot be missed. With these tips, you will be able to get the most out of your foam roller. Drinking water after your rolling session is important and can help with soreness for the following day.
Be consistent with this independent self-care action and your body will transform and feel better in no time!