Fitness

Self Massage-Benefits of the Foam Roller

Self Massage-Benefits of the Foam Roller

 

What Is a Foam Roller?

Typically located at the stretching area of a gym, foam rollers are usually 3-foot long foam cylinder logs that are and very functional! A person’s body weight provides all the pressure needed to roll out pain, stiffness and even adhesions, or areas where connective tissue adheres to the bones.

Foam rollers can be used in a number of ways, like targeting areas that are difficult to stretch and massage.

Injury Rehabilitation

 

Just like sports or deep tissue massage, using a foam roller will relieve tension, pain, and over time break down scar tissue, reducing the likelihood and risk of injury. Nourishing your muscles in this way allows athletes and almost all people who move their bodies, to maintain their training schedule. Probably the most beneficial result of the foam roller is the rehabilitation of scar tissue that is formed either from overuse or from a previous injury.  When you tear your muscles — the result of working hard during your training sessions, and the reason soreness occurs — muscle fibers shorten and scar tissue is formed with minor soft tissue injury. Using the foam roller is the answer to that pain, and can be incorporated into a warm up or cool down. Body builders and strength trainers really should incorporate this into their work out regime! Try rolling out trigger points (those tight spots, or knots) and minor injuries like shin splints.

Stretching

Stretching on a foam roller is more like stretching out pizza dough. The muscles are essentially stretched around the roller. Certain areas of the body are difficult to stretch, like your outer thigh that may include the IT band, one of a runner’s tightest muscles. Now let’s look at how the foam roller can help make running more efficient. Lay on your side on the foam roller a few inches under your hip. Support yourself on your elbow, and roll back and forth from the hip to the knee. The pressure slowly stretches out the muscles in the outer thigh, increasing flexibility and agility while decreasing the risk of tightness and muscle pain.

Massage

The foam roller offers the similar relaxation benefits of a massage and as long as muscles are already warm, many exercisers can use them after a vigorous workout to help relax and stretch. Beginners can keep rolling sessions to about 15 minutes and longer for advanced athletes or foam roller users.

How To Use the Roller

When you lie on the roller, keep your body centered, and start by rolling out the parts that can work 2 areas at a time, such as both hamstrings, both calves, or both quadriceps. Once you have rolled out the targeted area, remove the pressure from one side by lifting one leg, leaning on one thigh or crossing ankles to keep the pressure on one side.

Examples of Roller Exercises

➲ Back of the Legs

Sit on the foam roller with arms stretched behind you, hands flat on the floor. Place the roller under glutes, hamstrings or calves.  Slowly roll that portion of the body only, not the entire back of the leg for a few minutes before you move down to the next body part. Rock back and forth and really put some body weight into the foam roller.

➲ Quadriceps

Lay on the roller with hands or elbows on the floor, much like a plank or pushup. Roll back and forward from him to knee on the front of the leg at first, then further out and in to get the entire quadriceps.

➲ Back

Lay on your back with the roller under your scapula or upper back. With your knees bent, place feet flat on the floor.  Raise hips into bridge pose (or until glutes are off the ground) and place hands behind head or alongside your body, flat on the ground. Roll over the upper part of your back to knead and squeeze the knots out of this area. To target the lats, roll slightly to one side, outstretch arm closest to ground and roll back and forth.

Fifteen minutes on a foam roller is practically as good as a sports massage that is easy on the pocketbook too. Using a foam roller is also called myofascial release, which is a type of soft tissue therapy used to reduce soreness and stiffness that limits the range of motion. This low tech gadget will run you about $20 and is an excellent and cheap way to prevent injury and help you relax!

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