Over time, either from working out and exercising or from sitting from long periods of time, tension will start to build in your muscles. This muscle tension is often described as a knot, which can be painful and will prevent your muscles from functioning optimally. Since many of us do not have the money to have a professional massage therapist work at these knots daily, it is in our best interest release the tension in our muscles and soft tissue ourselves. About 10-20 minutes a day should be spent rolling out the entire body. Initially, this will be painful, but the more time you dedicate to this, the quicker this pain will subside. The key is to find the spots most painful, and apply as much pressure as you can tolerate. Don’t be intimidated, after a few weeks of doing this daily, you’ll feel a noticeable difference in how your body feels!
This routine should begin with your calves, and gradually work up your body. You can use two legs at once, but this may not dig into the muscle deep enough. If there is no muscle soreness, attempt crossing one like on top of the other so the rolling is applied onto one calve at a time. Find a tender spot, and roll back and forth.
Starting from the back of the knee, moving to just below your butt, begin rolling out your hamstrings. One leg at a time is ideal, having the opposite leg bent in order to push you back and forth.
Placing one foot on top of the opposite leg, just above the knee, begin rolling out your gluts. You can rotate your body to the left and the right to roll different trigger points in the muscle.
The IT band is located on the side of your leg and is commonly very tight. Do not be surprised if you begin to experience more pain than the spots you have rolled out so far. Proper form consists of the bottom leg (with the pressure applied) extended straight, and the back straight and in alignment with the extended leg. The opposite leg is bent and placed in front of the extended leg to support and propel your body back and forth. You can use are elbow/forearm closest to the ground to support your upper body as well. If you find a spot that is extremely painful, hold the roll there for a few seconds and then move back and forth on it. The more pain you can tolerate, the better.
Slide to the edge of the roller in order to have one leg bent and braced onto the floor. The opposite leg will be bent, with the roller being applied on the quads (front of your thigh). Move up and down, finding the trigger points. You can rotate your body left and right to move the roller more inward or more outward.
Turn the foam roller horizontally. Bend one leg and place the knee on top of the roller. Moving left and right and gradually move from above the knee towards the hip/pelvic region. Relax neck and shoulders as much as possible.
Chest & Back:
Place the foam roller vertically, along your spine and gently place your head down. With your arms up in the air above your chest, slowly relax them above your head. You should feel tension through your chest, and possibly tightness in you upper back and shoulder area. Relax and let yourself sink into this position, letting the tension release. Do not forget to take deep breathes from your belly. (See image below).
Pushing into your heels to raise your butt off the ground slightly, roll up and down the middle region of your back and into your shoulder blades. Again, you may rotate your body left or right to put emphasis on one side over the other. To further stretch your upper back and increase the range of motion, you may drop your butt down and lower your hands over your head and onto the floor. Doing this may cause some adjustments throughout the spine, so if you hear your back crack, don’t panic! This is a good thing, and simply means that you are mobilizing your spinal column (See image below).
Place the foam roller horizontally underneath your armpit. Ensure that the bottom leg is straight and in complete alignment with your upper body. The top leg will be bent and place in front of the other leg to proper your body up and down on the roller. Relax the arm above your head, turning your palm upwards.
Shoulders & Neck:
Place the foam roller against the wall and apply pressure onto your should, just below your neck. Lean into it as much as possible and let your arm relax towards the floor. Then, slowly move your arm in a circle going clockwise, then counter-clockwise. To increase the pressure applied on your shoulder, you may hold a weight in your hand (if available). After a minute or two, drop the weight if you’re holding one, and begin to roll up into your neck. Rotate your body left or right to get different locations on your neck. Proceed with extreme caution, and be gentle. Remember to keep your head upright, keeping your spine straight.
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