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You're tight. You just played an intense game of soccer you or just ran a marathon. Or maybe you're about to hit the gym and want to loosen up. You need myofascial release! Or as we like to say, myofascial relief.

But what does that have to do with foam rollers, you ask? Fascia is the cellophane wrap of muscles and bones and is a part of connective tissue. It covers tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. It wraps them up neatly allowing them to work together as a bundle so your body so you can do things like move, sit, run and play.

When fascia is healthy it's more agile and flexible, but when overworked or overstretched, it tightens. You want to loosen that up. That's where the foam roller comes in. Basically, a foam roller is your personal masseuse. A "self-massager" that lets you apply a desired amount of body weight to loosen your tight mucles.

But how exactly do I use the foam roller correctly, you ask? 

We've put together some foam roller technique tips so you can learn when to foam roll and how to do it properly. If you currently do not have a foam roller, visit or contact your local Fitness Town for recommendations based on your specific needs and goals.

 

Foam Roller Basics

Your foam roller is a nice, squishy bright-colored cylinder. It's main purpose? To boost blood flow, increase elasticity and extend range of motion. In other words, it's there to give you a good massage.

Elasticity and Range of Motion

Stretching before and after a workout for elasticity and range of motion is important and can help with the affects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). A foam roller shouldn't replace your stretching routine and instead should enhance it. Your roller gives you relief and flexibility in a different way. Just like massage, it kneads and works that connective tissue and muscle in ways stretching can't. Your foam roller can better target the spot that needs the most work. Rollers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and firmness to help you target specific areas. 

Again, think massage. You hips are tight? Your massage therapist gets in there better than those hip stretches. And your foam roller can do it too.

Blood Flow

The roll also gets blood flowing to the area and speeds up the healing process. A gentle roll can do a lot for an injury because the blood boosts oxygen flow and other needed compounds to the area. This decreases inflammation and boosts recovery.

Blood flow also works to warm up muscles so a quick roll before a workout or athletic event is a great start to a warm-up. Since it can boost recovery, it also feels good at the end of a workout and can be part of your cool down. Again, it boosts blood flow and lengthening and loosening those muscles you've been working.

 

How to Roll Specific Areas

A simple 10 minutes a day can make a difference. Grab your foam roller and try working these body areas as needed. Go slow and be sure to breathe.

Quads

Quadriceps are the big muscles on the front of your thighs. They work to straighten out your leg. Think about bringing your foot forward in a kick. Start in a cobra-like position, on your stomach and elbows, legs straight, toes under. Put the foam roller just below your hips. Roll forward and backward using your arms as the roller rolls over your quads beneath you.

Hamstrings

Think big muscles on the back of your thighs. They let your bend at the knee and bring your foot up. Sit with your legs straight out and arms straight at your sides, hands on the ground. Sit on the roller and push yourself backward and forward on it with your arms, letting it roll from your bottom to your knee and back.

Calves

Think the back of the bottom half of your legs. They let you point your foot. This lets you stand on your toes or push your soles into the ground and propel forward when you walk. This is the same as with hamstrings but on the bottom part of your leg. Sit, legs straight, arms at your sides. Put the roller under your knees and push yourself to roll from knees to ankles and back.

Iliotibial Band

This is the outside of your thighs. It works to let you move your leg out to the side. Lay on your side, body straight and up on one elbow. Put the roller just below your hip and roll on it from there to your knees and back. Do on both sides.

Lower Back

Lie on the ground. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Come up onto your elbows with your hands on the ground. Put the roller under the middle of your back. Think the other side of your belly button. Roll on it from there to the bottom of your pelvis (tail bone) and back. For more comfort, consider a longer foam roller for back exercises.

Glutes

Glutes are the muscle area located on each side of your buttocks. Just like with the lower back exercise, lie on the ground, knees bent, feet flat, sitting up on your elbows. Put the roller on your lower back. Roll down to where your glutes meet your hamstrings and back. You can also do this exercise by laying sideways on the roller to get an even deeper massage.

Upper Back

This is also called your thoracic spine. It's located between your shoulder blades. Lay flat on the ground, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground shoulder-width apart. Place the foam roller under your shoulder blades. Bend your arms and place your hands behind your head with your elbows out. Lift your hips up and roll from there up to the top of your shoulders and back. 

You can also cross your arms in front of you to "hug" yourself with your elbows pointed up and then roll back and forth. Another great move is to stay in one spot, roller in place under your shoulder blades and hands behind your head, and slowly bring your head down to the ground in a stretch.

Hips

Start with your hip flexors. Think of lifting your knee up as in marching. Lay on your side, up on one elbow and put the roller under your hip. Lean forward and balance on one hand and the same-side foot. Roll up and down over your hip in little movements. Complete roll exercise on both sides for equal relief.

Then do your piriformis, or outside hip on the glutes. Sit on the roller using your hands and feet, with bent knees for balance. Lift one arm and turn slightly to sit on the side of your opposite glute. Roll up and down the side of your glute. Complete roll exercise on both sides for equal relief.

Feet

Stand and use something you can hold onto for balance. During any fitness exercise, ensure your workout area is clear and not potentially hazardous. Put the arch of one foot on the roller. Push down and roll back and forth on your foot. Complete roll exercise on both feet for equal relief.

 

Roll, Release, Relief

Now that you know how to use your foam roller on different areas of your body, it's time to give it a go! Visit Fitness Town for a huge variety of foam rollers that range not only in price but in size, shape and firmness. Our Fitness Equipment Experts strive to match each customer with a product that works best for their specific set of needs and goals. Find the quality brands such as Travel Roller, TriggerPoint, RAD, RumbleRoller, GoFit and more at Fitness Town online or in store. Check out the array of rollers we have online now and start getting the pain relief you want right at home today.

 

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