One of the best ways to loosen up tight muscles and tone your body is with a foam roller. This oft-forgotten tool is an MVP when it comes to self-myofascial release and restoring the body’s alignment.
Think of it as giving yourself a really good massage. “Ideally foam rolling should be done daily, before and after a workout,” says Chris Kievit, B.S., M.S., a New York City trainer. “It’s one of the best ways to relieve tension and adhesions which build up in muscles every day and result in soreness.”
As a pre-workout warm up, Kievit suggest foam rolling for five minutes in a slow-moving action. Focus on the legs, glutes, and IT bands—areas that tend to be the tightest on most people. “The benefit will be a lengthening of the muscles and increased range of motion when exercising,” he explains. “After the workout, you want to spend at least ten to fifteen minutes rolling out areas that feel sore.”
When you hit a hot spot, hold the foam roller there for 20 to 30 seconds. The net effect of this technique is better blood circulation, which accelerates workout recovery and boosts your overall performance.
Try these foam rolling moves for relaxed and restored muscles:
IT Band Roll Target: Outer thighs
1. Lie on your left side with your legs straight and your left hip on the foam roller.
2. Place your hands on the floor (palms down) in front of you, straighten your arms and lift your upper body off the floor.
3. Take your right foot and place it flat on the floor in front of your left knee.
4. Slowly roll from the hip down to the knee and back up to hip again. Repeat the motion 5 to 8 times, then switch sides.
Glute Roll Target: Butt
1. Sit on the foam roller and place your hands behind you (palms down) for support. 2. Cross your left leg over your right knee.
3. Lean toward left hip and slowly move your butt cheek over the roller.
4. Repeat the motion 5 to 8 times, then switch sides.
Snow Angel Target: Shoulders
1. Lie on the foam roller so that it runs the length of your spine.
2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
3. Place your hands (palms up) next to your hips; arms should be straight.
4. Slowly drag your hands along the floor toward your head.
5. Once they are above your head, hold the position for 8 to 10 seconds.
6. Drag them back down to the starting position; repeat motion 5 to 8 times.