Fitness: How to use a foam roller

Posted on Jun 5 2019 - 9:00am by Samantha Clark
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Foam rollers have been used to alleviate discomfort, stretch out muscles and even as an exercise tool to sculpt the body for 40-50 years. You’ve likely seen them around and have heard of all the great benefits to working with one, but perhaps you’ve got no idea of how to use one (us too!).

To help us get started, we talked to the expert yogis at Gaiam Europe to garner their advice on how we can use one for complete body benefit.

Follow their tips below for 10 minutes a day to feel significant change. Not only will it help to relieve muscle tension but it’ll correct muscle imbalances, increase your range of motion and help prevent injuries. Well worth the dedication (who doesn’t want a 10-minute massage a day)!

Foam rolling for your thighs

Front

Foam roller

For a quadricep release, get into Upward-Facing Dog pose and position the foam roller under your thighs with your toes on the floor. Press your hands into the floor and shift your body forward and backward, letting the foam roller massage your quads.

Back of your thighs and calves

If your hamstrings or calves are feeling a little tight- this will really help!

Position the roller under the back of your thighs or calves, then straighten your leg, keeping your heel off the floor. Press your hands into the floor and slightly raise your buttocks (reverse Plank). Shift your body forward and backward, letting the foam roller massage your thighs or calves.

Sides of your thighs

Position the foam roller under the outside of one of your thighs, straighten your leg, and point your toes. Press your hands into the floor and shift your body forward and backward while rolling the roller along the side of your upper leg. Feel the release, then switch sides.

Foam rolling for your back

Upper back

If you hunch over a computer all day long, this will feel wonderful!

Place the foam roller under your upper back, bend your legs and straighten your arms. Press your feet and hands into the ground and lift your buttocks off the floor, coming up into Bridge Pose. Shift your body forward and backward while the roller massages your upper back.

Lower back

Position the foam roller under your lower back and bend your arms and legs. Press your feet and elbows into the ground and raise your buttocks off the ground. Shift your body forward and backward while rolling the roller along your lower back.

Thoracic spine

A great technique to help work on a stiff back, shoulder tension and neck tension!

Lay face-up on the floor with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Centre the foam roller beneath your shoulder blades or mid-back so that it is perpendicular to your body, forming a capital T. Extend your arms out from your shoulders at a 45-degree angle. Reach arms back toward the floor and then up again, keeping your sacrum planted on the ground.

Foam rolling for your buttocks

To release tension in the glutes, place the roller under your buttocks. Bend your legs, placing your feet flat on the floor. Shift your body forward and backward while rolling the roller across your buttocks.

Perfect following lunges, squats and burpees in particular!

Foam rolling for your feet

If you’ve got sore or tired feet, a little foam roller massage will help greatly.

Stand with your foam roller under the arch of one foot. Gently apply pressure to the arch by leaning your weight forward and slowly rolling your foot back and forth over the roller. For increased pressure, hold onto something sturdy for balance.

Foam rolling for your arms

Work on your triceps (bingo wings!) with your foam roller.

To do this, lay on your side and place the foam roller under your armpit, stretching your arm overhead, parallel to your body. Roll upward, toward the armpit, pausing at any tender spots. Roll back down and repeat. Switch sides.

Foam rolling for your chest

Start by laying face-down on a yoga mat with the foam roller under the left side of your chest. Roll across your left pec and back, spending additional time on any sore spots you encounter. After approximately one minute, switch sides.

Foam rolling for flexing your hips

Lay on your stomach and place the roller under one hip, spreading your legs outward. Start at your hip and work down to the knee. If you find a tender spot, push down and hold, or roll quickly back and forth over the tender spot until it is relieved. Make sure to switch sides after about a minute.

Foam rolling for your neck

If you suffer with frequent tension headaches, this can work wonders at alleviating that tension.

Place the foam roller on the ground and lay on your back with your neck against the roller. The roller should be perpendicular to your body, forming a capital T. Place your hands on your hips. Roll slowly sideways, until the foam roller rolls over the next muscles where the sore trigger points are.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and find useful and easy to follow. It can be combined with any exercise programme and is particularly beneficial following cardio and strength training when muscles contract following such workouts. It’s also a great meditative programme to work on daily to help alleviate tension and stress in the body.

Thank you to Gaiam Europe for sharing their expert advice with us. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to get started! Oh and be sure to head to our competitions page too! We’ve partnered with Gaiam Europe on a competition to win a yoga kit!

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