Foam rollers are one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment and they’re popping up all over gyms, fitness centers, therapy clinics, and rehab facilities. Because you can perform a “self massage” and use them on just about every body part, they’re a great addition to your home gym too. In a therapy-based setting you might hear foam rolling referred to as myofascial release because it can help “release the knots” in your muscles.
Even though foam rollers are becoming so popular, many people still aren’t sure how to use them. So we asked our team members…”how do you foam roll?”
Alex is a Patient Care Specialist and fitness guru at our Grand Rapids clinic. She’s training for a 1/4 marathon and uses a foam roller to help her prep, which is a great habit. When you’re training for a race, the self-massaging technique of a foam roller helps loosen stiff muscles. In addition to using a foam roller, racers should stretch and cross train to help prevent repetitive stress injures that could sideline you.
Lindsay, a fitness instructor in our Sparta clinic uses her foam roller to work her IT band, a thick band of fibers that runs along the outside of your thigh. When this muscle gets tight it can cause knee and joint pain. To massage this area, lay on your side and roll the foam along the length of your thigh. Go slowly, and don’t roll over your knee, stop just above it.
Ease back pain
Foam rollers can work your entire back, easing pain and relaxing muscles. Melissa, a physical therapist assistant in our Coopersville clinic uses her foam roller for just that. She suggests that if you’re new to foam rolling you’ll want to use a roller that’s less dense. What she’s showing here is supporting her middle back by placing the foam roller in a position where her gluteal muscles are on bottom and her shoulder blades are on top – that way you get to work your upper and lower back. For more support you can put your hands down, as Melissa does. Slowly shift your weight from side to side.
Shoulder and Upper Back
Our shoulders and upper back can hold a lot of tension – that’s why working the muscles can feel so good. This exercise helps with posture, and it’s great for people who spend all day at a desk. The movements in this exercise are ideal for shoulder blade strengthening which helps with shoulder mobility and stability. Do this with the Theraband, as the crew in our Coopersville clinic shows here. This creates stability for the shoulder blades and engages your core. Slowly move your arms up and down to feel the release.
Its a balancing act
This is a definitely not for beginners, but, as Lindsay shows us, handstands on the half foam roll will definitely give your core a good workout.
If you really want to have a little fun with your foam roller, you can use it like Lindsey, although this method might take a little practice.
For these and other great tips on how to use your foam roller, stop by any of our 6 locations and talk to our personal trainers or fitness experts.