We all have our strengths and weaknesses… and one of my primary weaknesses is getting out the foam roller and actually spending some time loosening up my muscles. For some reason, stretching can get done in my book, but foam rolling is ultra difficult. But hey, we all have things to work on, right?
Just like most elements of fitness, I’m a lot better with foam rolling when I have a plan. Below is the plan that I’ve started to follow on my rest days. I typically start my time off with my usual stretches, but hold them for a minute rather than the 30 seconds I normally go for following my usual workout. From there, out comes the foam roller!
**Please note that I am NOT a trained doctor nor, while I do work with one, personal trainer. This is what works for me, but may not be what works for you. I’d always suggest working with a certified trainer or doctor to determine what works for you specifically.**
Remember to take your time with foam rolling – if you feel tight is a certain area, then take some extra time on that specific part of your body. While foam rolling should “hurt” a little, it shouldn’t be in a painful way. It should be in a similar way to when you’re stretching out a sore muscle, rather than twerking a muscle or moving it in an unnatural way.
Ultimately, foam rolling is going to help us increase blood flow, increase range of motion, decrease risk of injury, and decrease recovery time after a workout. Cosmetic benefits range from decreasing appearance of cellulite to giving you longer, leaner muscles, all the while rolling away tension and stress and protecting your knees. While a little bit painful, the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.
When foam rolling your hamstrings, roll from the base of your glutes to just above your knees. We want to avoid foam rolling on your joints across all of these moves.
Glutes should focus on the base of the bent leg, so make sure to do both sides to full roll out the pressure that we’re putting on our glutes all day.
For Calves, I find that my sore spots are a bit ore sneaky. I’d recommend rolling slowly down your calves to be able to target and roll out those sore spots.
Rolling IT Bands is similar to hamstrings (again, avoid your knee and hip joint!), but is always a bit more painful to me. It’s where I hold a lot of my tension, and you may feel the same way if you’re a runner or even if you wear heels often. This is where foam rolling hits home for me.
I always find the Quad/Hip Flexor stretch to feel a bit awkward to get into. Try not to lean too much on your knee cap for your support leg!
You’ll almost feel like you’re concentrating on your back a bit more than your oblique muscles when foam rolling your Lats. This always feels like much more of a stretch than I anticipate.
Foam rolling your Back should focus on your upper back, just below your sholder blades to about an inch lower. This will feel like a big stretch if you regularly hunch your back at an office, but will ultimately be incresing back mobility. Also, you’ll see some people at the gym foam rolling their lower back, but I caution you to avoid this, as it pits your back into an unnatural position, arches position aggravating the muscles below.
Foam rolling your Shoulders is really more of a stretch than the actual act of rolling. Start with your hands extended, clasped in front of you, then slowly extend your arms out to the side, as seen in the picture. Repeat this at least three times.
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