Foam rolling, which helps in the process known as myofascial release, is becoming a popular way of releasing muscle tightness and trigger point through self-massage.
Muscle tightness can develop anywhere in the body, but there are some muscle groups that are particularly known for becoming tight which can cause a lot of the common pains and postural problems.
It is through the process of foam rolling which can help relieve this tightness and restore the natural length of the muscles.
The process of foam rolling involves pushing a foam roller, which is a cylinder shaped massage tool, into the muscles of your body which have become tight.
Although a foam roller is the most popular method, you can use a number of different tools such as massage balls, muscle stick rollers and trigger point massage sticks but for this post, we’re going to stick with the foam roller.
To roll out your quads, roll from the top of the hip to the top of the knee. Keep your belly in and core tight.
You can try rolling with the feet facing out or inwards depending on where your tender spots are. If you feel any tight spots bend and extend the knee to iron out any trigger points.
2) IT band
The IT bands stretch from the top of the hip down to the knee. Some people say its a waste of time foam rolling the IT band as it has no effect but you can try it for yourself and see if you notice any positive benefits.
To roll the IT band, start at the middle of the leg and balancing on your forearm keeping your core tight. When you feel a knot bend and extend the leg. Repeat on the other side.
3) Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)
The TFL is a small muscle near the top of the hip.
To foam roll the TFL, balance your quads on the foam roller then twist your body slightly to one side. Angle your body then roll up and down and repeat on the other side.
If you want to go extreme or need more release, a massage ball can be very effective on this area.
The position of the roller is important because the adductors can be hard to reach, as they are in the fleshy area of your inner thigh.
Watch the video above to learn how to foam roll the inner thighs effectively.
The piriformis muscle helps abduct the leg and if it becomes too tight can give you the duck feet look, as well as sciatic pain. Learning how to foam roll the piriformis can help alleviate these conditions.
To foam roll the piriformis, sit on the foam roller and cross one of your legs over the other, then drop the knee down and start rolling.
Having tight hamstrings is particularly common especially if you never stretch them out. Luckily foam rolling the hamstrings is very easy to do.
Sit on the foam roller supporting yourself with your hands and start rolling from the butt then stop before the back of the knee.
If you don’t feel anything with a foam roller, you may require further pressure in which case you can use a lacrosse ball.
Runners and athletes are susceptible to getting tight calves. By foam rolling them effectively you can help release tension and prevent them from tightening up.
To foam roll your calf, place one ankle on your foam roller then cross the other on top for added pressure. Roll your foot from side to side. If you find any pressure points stop rolling and circle your ankle in both directions.
A lot of times to massage the calves out effectively you may need something more specialised than a foam roller such as a massage ball or a muscle roller stick. If you need more release you can try one of those myofascial release tools.
If you have shin pain or suffer from shin splints you should find foam rolling your shins beneficial.
To foam roll your shin, cross one leg over and place shins on roller. Roll up and down. Rotate foot when any pressure points are felt.
9) Upper Back
Place the foam roller near the top of the shoulders. Rest your head in your hands, elevate your hips and roll up and down. Bring your elbows in for a deeper message.
For greater release massage balls are very effective in this area.
The lats which run down the side of your torso can also be prone to getting tight especially if you sit all day.
Start at the armpit, rest head in hands and rotate forward and back across the roller. Move the roller down, then start rotating again. Then move roller down one more notch and again rotate across the roller. Repeat on the other side.
When to Foam Roll?
You can roll before a workout or after a workout. Rolling can also be done on days you do not exercise. So if you do have to watch TV get out your roller and do it at the same time.
Once you’ve done your entire body I am sure you’ll feel the difference!