When you’ve been exercising hard, your muscles can often get stiff and sore. But it’s not always easy to find the time or the budget to make an appointment with a massage therapist. Using a foam roller is a terrific alternative for soothing your knotted muscles, helping to smooth them out and give yourself a treat.Using a foam roller has so many benefits. For one thing, it’s an intense massage for the muscles, much like what you’d get from seeing a massage therapist.
Foam rolling can also be done on your own, saving you the high cost of paying for an hour at the spa. Plus, you can use the foam roller whenever you want — in the morning, after a workout or even right before bed. You can’t do that with a scheduled massage! What’s more, a foam roller helps you de-stress by releasing tension, increasing your blood flow and improving your flexibility — it’s a winning solution all around.
Of course, strengthening the 640 muscles in our body is important. But if you don’t stretch enough, your muscles can get tight. Foam-rolling can be thought of as “ironing out the wrinkles” of your muscles. Loosening up your muscles pre and post-workout results in an effective routine that will help you achieve your goals even faster. Rolling out your muscles leads to increased flexibility and range of motion, which will improve your overall fitness level and reduce the risk of potential injury. Here are a couple of quickie moves.
How to Use a Foam Roller
For tight hip and buttock muscles: Lie down on your side with your foot elevated off the floor. Place the foam roller underneath your thigh and roll up and down, repeating for 30 seconds on each side to help soothe away soreness and tension.
For back tension: Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back, then cross your arms in front of you. Raise your hips off the ground, placing your body weight onto the roller between your shoulder blades. Shift your weight to one side, rolling up and down the upper to mid-back to lower back. You can focus the attention on one section of your back, or wherever your body needs it most. Alternate sections and repeat for 30 seconds per section. Your back will thank you after!
For sore quads: If you’ve got a job where you’re sitting at a desk and working on your computer all day long, then rolling out your quads—or the group of four muscles at the front of your thigh—can really help to keep your blood flowing and your muscles engaged. Start in a forearm plank position on the floor with the roller under your quads on both thighs. Then straighten your arms as shown here. Tighten your core and begin to slowly roll down the roller until it reaches just above your knees. Roll in the opposite direction until the foam roller reaches your hip flexors. Repeat the move for 30 seconds. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Denise Austin’s Fit Over 50.