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Fit Tip: Use Foam Rollers for an Effective Stretch
August 28, 2012 // Category: Fitness Advisor
Ever wonder what that foam cylinder lying around in the gym is for? It’s a foam roller, a popular tool for relief from sore, tight muslces. It may just be the tool that can improve your flexibility and help prevent injury. After workouts, muscles can become tight and range of motion can feel limited. Muscles are like rubber bands and the further you stretch them, the better they can power you. So grab a foam roller and use these tips to help stretch out and prevent injury.
Invest in the Right Tool
Using a foam roller can be like treating yourself to a massage on the cheap. They cost between $15 for styrofoam and $30-40 for the high density foam. By using a foam roller you can break up fibrous tissues, boost circulation and increase the flexibility in your muscles.
Foam rollers can be used to roll out hips, legs and back after a workout. They come in 4” and 6” diameter – the smaller the diameter, the more intense the focused pressure. Use them to release tension and improve mobility by rolling over tight spots like stiff hips and legs after a cardio workout. Be careful not to roll over bony areas.
Try these foam roller exercises. There are many stretches you can do with foam rollers, but here are three that will help you get started.
- IT Band Roll - Lie sideways with the foam roller positioned under the side of your thigh. Take your top leg in front to the floor for balance. Roll between your knee and your hip bone. Spend extra time on any spot that feels tender. Repeat on both sides.
- Back Roll - Lie on your back on the foam roller. Cross your arms across the front of your chest. Press your back into the roller and move back and forth with your feet. Roll over specific spots that need more attention.
- Hamstring/Quad Roll - For a hamstring roll, start with a seated with both of your hamstrings on the roller at the same time and hold your body weight up with your hands behind you. Roll back and forth from your gluts to the back of your knees. To increase the pressure, lift one leg off the roller. For a quad roll, start lying face down with both of your thighs on the roller at the same time and hold your body weight up in a forearm plank. Roll back and forth from your hips to your knees. To increase the pressure, lift one thigh off the roller.
If you're looking for more information, Life Fitness guest blogger Chris Freytag demonstrates some of these moves in her video post, Foam Rollers as a Remedy for Aches and Pains.