The foam roller has become very popular over the years. If not used properly you could be wasting your time or even hurting yourself. It takes some concentration and a little bit of skill to get these techniques right. Let’s go over a few ways to use the foam roller.
Working with tissue that is tender and stressed is not very comfortable, so pay attention to the length of time the muscle is under pressure on the roller. The most common muscles that need care are the hip flexors, TFL and gluteals. All of these are shortened in a seated position. Also, these groups get heavily used in common exercises like squats, lunges, leg raises, and knee tucks, to name a few.
If these muscles have already been shortened all day, exercise will further tighten the tissue. Yes, you can strengthen the opposing muscle groups to counteract the tension, however, releasing the habitually shortened muscle will be beneficial to give the opposing muscle some room to contract in its full range of motion. Also, the foam roller’s compression will increase blood circulation to the muscle creating stimulation, and in turn, release the “tight” feeling. As you will notice, we apply cross-fiber pressure to the muscle when using the foam roll. This is more effective than going with the fibers of the muscle.
Using the foam roller for mobility can be a great way to warm up your muscles and joints before exercise. It is an excellent tool to help guide you through body movements, opening up new ranges of motion. Below you will find a few moves that target the shoulders and upper/lower back.
After stimulating, increasing blood circulation, and mobilizing muscle groups, strengthening is the next step. There are some pretty challenging stability exercises for the foam roller. Here are a few we came up with.
Get a foam roller from Amazon and start these exercises!