Today we’re wrapping up the Baby Steps To Balanced Living series with another easy habit to add into your 2014 routine…foam rolling.
You may have seen them at the gym and wondered what they are, or, you may already have a love affair with this simple prop like I do.
First off, let’s talk about why adding foam rolling into your routine can benefit your health.
Benefits of foam rolling:
- improved circulation
- increased flexibility
- reduced muscle tension
- reduced chance of injury
- quicker post-workout recovery
- improved range of motion
Essentially, foam rollers are used to perform self-myofascial release.
What is self-myofascial release?
In short, the body is covered in fascial tissue. Fascial tissue is interconnected throughout the entire body, so if the tissue is tight/restricted in one area it can and will affect other areas of the body. Therefore, using the foam roller to keep mucles and tissue healthy can lead to the benefits listed above along with overall improved physical performance.
When to use a foam roller:
You can use a foam roller as part of your warm up or cool down. Use it during a warm up to increase circulation and warm up your muscles. Or use it during your cool down to help reduce exercise-induced soreness the next day.
You can use the foam roller to alleviate tight muscles and essentially give yourself a deep tissue massage.
You can also use it as a prop in Pilates to add an extra balance and stability challenge.
3 moves to try:
Place the roller under you thighs and roll it back in forth between your glutes and the back of your knees. Use your hands for support.
Good for: releasing tight hamstrings, improving flexibility.
IT Band Release:
Place the roller under your hip. Cross your top leg in front of you for support. Use your hands as well. Roll back and forth on the outside of the leg from the hip down to the knee.
Good for: hip or knee pain due to a tight IT band (common with runners & cyclists).
note: avoid this exercise if you have back injuries and are unsure of what hurts/helps.
Place the foam roller behind your back just below your shoulder blades. Interlace your hands behind your head. Gently let your upper back arch over the roller. Return to starting position and repeat.
Good for: releasing tight muscles after a long day of sitting. improving posture, reducing back pain.
Where to buy:
These days most sporting goods stores carry foam rollers for a very affordable price.
If you want one that will last a long time I recommend this one from Balanced Body.
You can also find cheaper options here on Amazon.
What do you think, will you try adding foam rolling into your routine this year?
PPS – you may also like 5 foam roller exercises to relieve shoulder tension and the other Baby Steps To Balanced Living: warm lemon water, dry skin brushing, exercises for a healthy spine and fermented foods.