How to Use a Foam Roller

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If you’ve just completed a workout or simply have tight muscles, you’re a prime candidate for a massage technique called self myofascial release, or SMR. The technique stimulates neural receptors in your muscles that cause your muscles to relax. Using a foam roller to perform SMR can provide benefits similar to stretching, such as increased flexibility and a reduction in muscle soreness after a workout. Foam rolling can also repair muscle adhesions caused by everyday problems such as poor posture or repetitive motions.

  • Target your calves by sitting on the floor and placing the middle of your calf on top of the roller. Cross your opposite leg on top of the target leg. Place your palms on the floor and lift your butt so your weight is on your hands and the roller. Slide your calf over the top of the roller, between the ankle and knee. Repeat the process on the opposite calf.

  • Massage your hamstrings by sitting and positioning the roller below your lower right thigh. Extend your legs and cross your left leg on top. Place your palms on the floor and support yourself with your hands and the roller. Roll toward your butt, but stop before you reach the hip. Repeat the process on the left leg.

  • Lie face down on the floor to focus on your quadriceps. Place the roller just above the knees of both legs, lift your feet and place your forearms on the floor. Your body should be fairly straight from your shoulders to feet. Tighten your abs and then roll across your thighs.

  • Sit with your butt on the roller to massage your glutes. Place your left hand on the floor, raise your left foot and position it in the air, outside of your right knee. Lean toward your left hip, then roll over your butt from side to side or forward and back. Repeat the process with your right leg crossed over your left.

  • Target the latissimus dorsi muscles by lying on your side with the roller slightly lower than your armpit. Extend your lower arm past your head with your thumb pointed up. Move the roller along your side just a few inches, then repeat on the opposite side.

  • Lie face up with your upper back on top of the roller to work your rhomboids and upper spine area. Cross your arms over your chest, keep your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and lift your butt in the air. Roll from the starting position down to your middle back.

Tips & Warnings

  • Move slowly on top of the roller.
  • If you find a particularly tender area when you're rolling, place that spot on top of the roller and hold your position for 30 to 90 seconds.
  • Perform foam rolling before you do any stretches.

References

  • Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
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