How to Properly Use a Foam Roller

Muscle fatigue, soreness, stiffness caused by prolonged or frequent training sessions are common issues sportspeople face. Quick recovery, on the other hand, may help improve results. This is where foam rollers come into play.

Foam rollers are used for so-called Self‐myofascial release (SMR). If done correctly, it can help increase the range of joint motion, prevent acute muscle soreness, delayed onset muscle soreness. Thus, helping train more frequently and effectively.

Using foam rollers also have certain psychological benefits. It promotes relaxation, improves motivation, and thus helps train regularly.

A foam roller is also beneficial for those with a sedentary lifestyle. It could be the only way to stay active and to prevent disorders related to prolonged periods of sitting at the desk.

With foaming rollers, a person uses his or her body weight to apply pressure on muscles and surrounding soft tissues. It is a type of self-massage. Most people use foam roller bars for it, although using a tennis ball is also possible. However, foam roller bars are created explicitly for the purpose and are more straightforward to use.

One does not need much equipment for the purpose. All one needs is a foam roller and some space.

When it comes to the timing of foam rolling, it would depend on the purpose. It may be used as a part of the warmup session to increase local blood flow and reduce muscle tightness. However, suppose a person has a problem with muscle soreness. In that case, it is better to use it after an exercise session.

It would be wrong to think that foam rollers are only for those who train regularly. They can be used even without doing any exercise to improve blood flow to muscles. It may be especially good for those with a job that requires prolonged sitting sessions. The foam roller not only helps relax but also enhances blood flow to the muscles. As a result, it may help reduce certain adverse effects of prolonged sitting sessions.

Using a foam roller is pretty straightforward and does not require much training. All one has to do is choose the target muscle groups, almost lie on the foam roller, and make motions to ensure that the foam roller rotates. Some of the muscle groups to targets could be:

Self-Massage of Quads

There are some of the largest muscles in the body, forming most of the thighs. One can start with the forearm plank position, with a roller under the quads. Then one can roll the foam roller in a way that it reaches knees, followed by a roll in the other direction (towards the abdomen). Usually, 30 seconds of massage is enough to warm up these muscles or prevent their soreness. If there are tender spots, one may slow down at places.

One can also use a foam roller in a similar way for hip flexor.

Self-Massage of Calves

Calves are often described as the second heart of the body. Their contraction promotes the return of the blood to the heart. Prolonged sitting may cause feet to swell in some individuals. Thus, this exercise is beneficial for those with prolonged sitting sessions. Using a foam roller not only help massage the muscles, it considerably improves blood flow.

One can start by sitting on the floor with legs extended and placing a foam roller below the calves. Then lift the body a bit above the floor with the help of both hands and carry out forward and backward motion, ensuring the rolling of a foam roller.

Self-Massage of Hamstrings

Another group of muscles become stiff with prolonged sitting. Stiff hamstrings also limit the range of motion during training.

Quite like in the case of calves, one starts by sitting on the floor with legs extended. However, this time foam roller should be below one of the hamstring muscles. Since hamstring muscles are large, it is better to massage each leg separately.

To start using a foam roller, lift your body with the help of hands, and one can also bend one of the legs, which is not being massaged to support the rolling motion.

Similarly, one can use a foam roller to massage the outer thighs, upper back, and even lats.

It is worth knowing that foam roller is still good to use for those who do not exercise regularly. It is because motions carried out for foam rolling may have a dual role for them, it may help enhance blood flow to the muscles, and at the same time, it may help train other parts of the body.

Thus, foam rolling must be viewed both as a type of physiotherapy and a way of relaxation.

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