The foam roller is a common afterthought for most people who exercise. In an ideal world, every single person foam rolls daily to improve range of motion and decrease muscle soreness. Whether you exercise regularly or sit at a desk all day for work, foam rolling helps you relieve tension by aiding myofascial release.
It’s a therapy that you do yourself, and this is why many people neglect it. Even though therapies like massage, chiropractic, or cupping cost a lot more than a foam roller, the person doesn’t have to exert effort in those therapies. A massage every once in a while doesn’t offer the same benefits as daily foam rolling, though. According to a study published in Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, foam rolling daily can enhance flexibility and reduce muscle soreness more than static stretching.
The best part about foam rolling is that everyone can do it, anywhere and anytime. A foam roller is a one-time purchase, but make sure you buy a good one so you don’t have to replace it after several uses. Of course, the foam rolling market has expanded immensely in recent years, offering all sorts of advanced foam rollers. Don’t let vibrating or studded rollers sway you because all you need is a firm, three-foot foam roller to do the following exercises. They’ll benefit your body in ways you never thought possible!
Thoracic Extension Mobilization
This is a fancy name for a move that is very easy to do. Sit on your butt with your legs extended out in front, and place the foam roller behind you on the ground perpendicular to your body. Lay back onto the foam roller, so that your upper back is on the roller. Interlace your fingers behind your head and gently relax, dropping your head toward the floor. Make sure to keep your lower back/butt on the ground. You aren’t rolling in this position; rather, you relax down and return to the starting position slowly for a couple minutes.
IT Band Roll
If there is any single truth in this life, it’s that every person has tension in their IT bands. To relieve this tension, lie on your left side with your right leg bent and left leg extended. Place the foam roller perpendicular to your leg and then lay on the foam roller on your left hip joint. Cross your right leg over your left, or extend it to rest on top of your left leg. Support your upper body with your hands or forearms on the ground and roll from your hip to your knee, going slowly over tight areas. Repeat on the opposite side.
This is not an area that receives a lot of attention, but it definitely deserves it. Lie on your right side with foam roller under your armpit. Extend your right arm over the foam roller. Don’t roll quickly or too much! You don’t want to roll on your ribs, so try to go side to side instead of back and forth for this move. This move allows you to massage your lat and rear deltoid. Repeat on the other side once you’re finished.
Static Chest Stretch
This one is a little different than the previous moves in that you lay on the foam roller so that it runs along your spine. Keep your lower back at one end of the roller and bend your legs to keep your feet on the ground. The top of your head should just touch the other end of the roller. Let your arms fall to the sides and hold this position for about 30 seconds. Don’t move during this time.
The groin doesn’t receive a lot of attention, but it’s very easy to injure or develop muscle spasms. Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms and elbows. Extend your right leg behind you and place your left inner thigh on top of the foam roller. The foam roller should be perpendicular to your thigh. Slowly roll from your grown to your inner knee. Repeat on the opposite leg.
If you have tight glutes and hips, you most certainly have tension in your lower back. Roll that tension away by giving your glutes a massage. Sit on the foam roller, place your hands bend the roller on the ground for support, bend your knees, and place your right ankle on top your left thigh. This is just like a figure four stretch. Shift your weight to your right glute and roll back and forth to massage the muscle. Repeat on the other leg.