Muscles feeling tight and fatigued after your workouts? While it’s certainly normal, even with adequate stretching, using a foam roller can help.
A foam roller can actually massage muscles, as well as help lengthen and elongate them. Doing so, even for 10 – 15 minutes post-workout, can speed up recovery and help reduce sport-related injury.
“It’s not a replacement for proper stretching, warming up or cooling down, but can be used as a tool to limit soreness and tightness through increased blood flow and flexibility,” says Bryan Hill, a physical therapist and co-owner of Rehab United, a physical therapy center in San Diego. (Source: http://running.competitor.com/2014/02/injury-prevention/roll-away-injuries_35211)
Foam rolling improves blood circulation, as well, which provides for better overall cellular function. By increasing circulation and function, especially around problem areas of stiffness, you are addressing the overall issue of muscle soreness and affected joints.
A ways to get started with a foam roller:
Calves – Sit on the floor with your legs straight out, hands on the floor behind you supporting your weight. Place the foam roller under your calves (A). Slowly roll along the back of your legs up and down from just below your knees to right above the ankles (B).
Hamstrings – Sit with your right leg on the roller; bend your left knee, cross your left ankle, and put your hands on the floor behind you (A). Roll up and down from just above your knee to just under your right buttocks (B). Switch legs.
Back – Sit on the floor with the foam roller on your lower back, resting your hands behind you for balance (A). Tighten your abs and slowly bend your knees to move the roller up your back, just below your shoulder blades (B).