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The Benefits of Foam Rolling

SANO Editorial

Who doesn’t love getting a massage?  You should be giving yourself one almost every day in the form of foam-rolling.  Foam rollers can be used for a multitude of things from warming up your muscles and stretching them out to helping loosen tight muscles and relieve pain—no matter your age.  Here are some powerful tips that will only take 5-15 minutes per day to help you crush your at-home workouts. 

Why Should I Foam Roll? The main benefit of foam-rolling is to aid myofascial release. Think of the fascia as the body’s “soft skeleton” because it is essentially the collagen that is cased around every muscle fiber, organ, nerve fiber and bone in the body.  With muscle soreness, inflammation, injury, or atrophy the fascia becomes stiff and tightens (think knots in your back), which can lead to pain and possibly further injury.  

Exercises.  Relieve your sore muscles and improve your recovery time with these five foam-rolling exercises.

  • CALVES: Sit on your mat with your hands on either side of you butt, then cross one of your ankles over the other with the foam roller under your lower leg. Roll your ankle from ankle to knee a few times with your toes point up to the sky.  Switch legs and repeat.
  • QUADS: Lie face down on your mat with your forearms propping you up. Place the foam roller under your quads and roll from your knee to the top of your legs.
  • GLUTES: Sit on the foam roller with one of your feet on your mat and the other leg crossed over your opposite thigh. Place your hand that is opposite of your leg that is on your mat behind you for support. Tilt your body towards the foam-roller and begin to roll your muscle slowly.  Switch position to opposite side and repeat.
  • BACK: Lie facing up with your feet flat on your mat, knees up and butt lifted off the floor, then place the foam-roller in the middle of your back. Once you have this position, interlace your fingers behind your head and slowly roll your back from your shoulder to your mid-back.  Make sure not to roll your lower-back!
  • IT BANDS: We saved the most painful, but beneficial for last! Lie on your side with your hands supplanted in front of you and cross your higher leg over the other placing your foot on the mat. Use your hands to roll your body slowly and gradually along your IT bands. Our IT bands have a tendency to tighten from prolonged sitting at desks, on airplanes/trains/cars and other seating positions.  

How Often? Ideally, every day. The more you foam-roll, the more your muscles respond to it.  Similar to stretching, you should do it daily although ease yourself into it by gradually building up the number of sessions you do.  We recommend dedicating 5 to 15 minutes per session to foam-rolling exercises at least once a day to simply get out the kinks, especially as we are probably sitting more during the current virus climate. Scan your body and when you find an area of tension, work around it for about 20-30 seconds using short, slow rolls and follow this up with longer, slower strokes over the whole length of the muscle.

Common Mistakes.  In order to maximize benefits of foam-rolling and avoid injury, here are some top mistakes you should avoid.  You should avoid directly rolling on your lower vertebrae as this could cause contraction on you lower back muscles resulting in discomfort.  You don’t have to spend equal amounts of time on each body part.  In other words, spend more time on your right quadricep if your scan results in that one hurting more than your left quadricep.

When you go to get a massage from a masseuse, we aren’t in a hurry to leave the table, so avoid rolling too quickly.  Longer slower more measured and elongated rolls, while concentrating on your breathing will send messages from your brain to relax your muscles.  Some of your favorite brands to help you recover include Trigger Point and Hyperice.  And don’t forget to recover with your favorite complete plant-based protein that includes all nine essential amino acids that our bodies don’t produce naturally.  

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