Foam rollers are starting to be seen everywhere. Big sports teams are using them, physical therapists are using them, and every day weekend warriors have begun to use them too. It is basically a way to use the techniques that massage therapist have used for centuries in your own home and for just about free.Try it and you’ll feel the results after the first time, and they get even better with continued use.
The science in a nutshell: Within the muscle tendon connection, there is a receptor called the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO). If enough pressure is applied to a muscle then the GTO tells your brain to release the muscle. This means that you get the benefit of regular stretching plus more. This release is said to be more long lasting and greater than traditional stretching. For more science you can go to this article.
How to do it: It is best to roll warm muscles. So do a warm up first or do it in the evening while you watch the tube. The foam roller works with your body weight. So you will lay on the roller in different positions to hit different muscles. The goal is to slowly move from one end of the muscle to the other, while trying to locate your tension points. Once you find this knot, you’ll either just stay there or sort of roll slightly to achieve a massaging effect. You may feel the muscle release, and you may not. It is important to relax, breathe into the area, and take your time. Warning: If you have a particularly tight area, this can be painful.
Now that you have the general concepts, take a look below for how to roll common areas of tension. If you are not sure where you should be rolling, a trainer can help you identify the areas you need to work on releasing.
Calf Muscles: Start with the roller just below your knees. Using your arms for support, lift your hips off the ground and apply all your weight to your calves. Roll the outside of the calf and then the inside. For more pressure set one leg on top of the other and roll each leg separately.
Quadriceps: Place your elbows under your shoulders. Start rolling from your hip to your knee. Slightly turn your feet out, to reach the inner muscles and then in to reach the outer. *Keep your core strong, because this is an excellent core workout too.
Upper Back (Rhomoids, Trapezius): Start mid back and roll up to the base of your neck. Never roll your lower back or your neck.
Iliotibial Band (IT Band): Lay on the roller on your right side. Place your left foot in front of your right leg for support. Slowly roll toward your knee. Remember to pause in places where you feel tension. You can also stack your legs for more pressure. This one can be painful. Especially for women. Go slow and breathe into it.