Feeling sore after a long day working in your yard? A massage would make those tight muscles feel a whole lot better. But a full body massage is not always practical or affordable. Take a tip from professional athletes and try foam rolling.
Our body is encased in fascia, a connective tissue that covers all our muscles. Foam rolling is one way to use self-mobilization techniques to release the tension, release knots and lengthen muscle fibers. Recent research suggests that foam rolling can increase range of motion and reduce soreness.
Most gyms and training facilities have various sizes of foam rollers. I've even found them stocked at Target and Walmart. Foam rollers come in different sizes, textures and densities. When selecting your roller, keep in mind your tolerance for deep tissue massages- the more firm the roll, the more intense the pressure.
Now that you have your foam roller, here are a few exercises to try. Roll up and down on each muscle group several times, pausing on a sore spots:
1. Hamstrings: place the roller on the floor. Put your legs over the roller and support your body weight with your hands on the floor behind you. Roll your hamstrings from your knee to your buttock and back again. Repeat for the other side.
2. Calves: place your calves on the roller and support your body like in example #1. Roll from above your ankle to just below your knee. Repeat for the other side.
3. Quadriceps: lay over the foam roller with your thighs resting on the roll. Walk your forearms forward and back while you support your trunk in a plank position. Work the foam roller from your hips to just above your knees.
4. Upper/mid-back: (Consult your physical therapist or primary physician if you have any history of spine conditions before trying this exercise) Lie on the roller with it positioned across your upper back. Keep both knees bent with your feet down and core engaged ("tummy tight"). Keep your neck comfortable. Slowly roll from the upper back to the ribs, never over the neck.
5. Low back: Same position as #4 but roll from ribs to the hips, and back up again.
Foam rolling may be a simple technique but it can be uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. Stick with it. Soon you'll release the tension and reduce the chronic tightness.
As always, stop by our office if you have any questions. The staff at Tri Rehab is happy to help.