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Family Sports & Fitness

Foam Rollers: Well-Rounded Routines

Today’s trainers suggest we all – avid athletes and weekend runners alike – use foam rollers to massage away muscle knots and avoid injuries.

These hard foam cylinders were once only available by special order from physical therapists. Now they’re on sporting goods store shelves for between $20 and $60. Produced in a variety of sizes and densities, make at least one foam roller part of your home fitness equipment. If you work out at a gym, look for a roller and use it regularly.

A low-tech solution
Use your own body weight against the foam as you roll yourself through a series of targeted deep, smooth massages. An everyday foam rolling routine can massage away the build-up of fascia in your muscles and prevent stressed muscles from tightening up. The action will be slightly painful at first, but don’t give up because the benefits include:
  • Injury prevention. A regular foam-roller habit can help runners avoid tight IT bands and desk workers avoid shoulder and neck injuries from repetitive motion.
  • Stress reduction. Like a good, deep massage, rolling digs way the knots and releases the tension in your connective tissue. When tension melts away, so does stress.
  • Added flexibility. A fit body is flexible, and foam roller stretches aid in keeping you that way. Look online for stretches that lengthen your hip flexors, add range of motion to shoulders and elongate calf muscles.
A simple start
Try to roll out the following exercises for 10 – 15 minutes every day. Once mastered, research additional uses for the roller, either online or by asking a fitness instructor.

Hip Flexors
Start face down on the floor, arms holding up your torso, with both thighs on the roller. Use your arms to roll your thighs up and down the roller, spending time on any knots you feel. Roll for about 60 seconds.

IT Band
Sit on the floor and place the foam roller next to your left hip. Roll your left hip onto the roller, placing it just below your hip, with your left leg extended out. Hold your torso weight with both arms in front of you and place your right foot on the floor in front of your left shin. Shift your weight to slowly roll the foam between your hip and knee. Roll for 60 seconds, then shift to the other side.

Start with both thighs on the roller in a seated position. Your hands should be by your side behind the roller, holding you up. Move the roller from your knees to your hamstrings, increasing the pressure on each leg by lifting one thigh off the roller at a time.

Sit on the roller with your hands on the floor behind the roller. Place your right ankle onto your left thigh, your left foot firmly on the floor. Roll body back and forth, hitting all parts of the gluteus muscles. Roll each side of your buttocks for 60 seconds.

Sit with your legs extended, hands on the floor next to you. Place your right ankle on the roller, cross your left ankle over it, then move your body so your right calf is massaged. Repeat with left calf.

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