Foam roller workout
We can’t say enough good things about the benefits of regularly using a foam roller. Like a portable masseuse – and much less expensive – the foam roller is the perfect tool for easing muscle tension and inflammation, and can improve your flexibility and range of motion, too.
Using your body weight, gentle pressure is applied to the fascia, or connective tissue, and muscle to lengthen fibres and release tension. On top of that, it increases circulation to the areas you use it on, meaning recovery times are reduced.
What you need
You’ll find foam rollers at sports outlets and online, ranging in price from $20 to $40. Some gyms have them on hand for their members to use, too.
If you’re active most days, give these moves a go two to three times a week. Do each move for two minutes, with a 30-second rest after the first minute.
1. Core exercise
Works: Your abs
How-to: Sit on one end of the roller, then lie back so your head is resting on the opposite end. Reach your arms out into a T-shape. Keep your knees shoulder-width apart and bent at a 90-degree angle, and feet flat on the ground. Tighten your tummy muscles and, keeping your back flat, slowly raise your knees until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Lower back to the start position.
2. For calves
Helps: Your calf muscles
How-to: Sit on the floor with your legs straight. Lift your right leg over your left, crossing at the knees and ankles. Place the foam roller under your left calf. Using your hands to support you, keep your arms straight as you lift your bottom and legs off the ground. Slowly roll the foam roller up and down your left calf, back and forth from the underside of your knee to the back of your ankle. Repeat on the right side.
3. For sides
Helps: Your IT band
How-to: The iliotibial (IT) band is a fascia that runs down the outside of your thigh from hip to shin. To help release tension there, lie on your left side, with your legs and back straight, and your left forearm on the ground supporting you. Keep your right hand on your right hip for balance, and use your right leg for stability. Slowly roll up and down your thigh to just above the knee. Repeat on the right leg.
4. For thighs
Helps: Your quadriceps
How-to: Lie on the floor face-down with the roller under your thighs. Bend your elbows so your forearms are flat on the floor. Keep your core muscles tight as you use your arms to roll up and down from your pelvic bone to just above your knees.
5. For upper legs
Helps: Your hamstring
How-to: Sit on the floor with your legs straight and the foam roller under your upper right leg. Place your hands flat on the floor by your sides and, keeping your arms straight and feet on the floor, raise your hips and bottom off the ground. Lean your weight into the roller and slowly roll it back and forth from the top of your leg to just above the back of your knee. Repeat for your left leg.