There’s a good reason you’re likely seeing more and more foam rollers at your local gym.
They’re awesome exercise equipment that has a place pre- and post-workout. Foam rollers are commonly used to extend range of motion before embarking on a workout, and for easing soreness as part of your cooldown after exercise.
There are many different rollers in different densities, so as a general guideline, choose low-density if you’re a beginner or rehabbing. This will help you slowly increase blood flow to any injured or sore areas. Medium-density rollers often have raised lines to encourage more oxygen and blood to reach the spot you’re working on. Don’t worry about high-density rollers for now – those are reserved for the experienced athletes.
Foam roller technique is relatively simple – just position the roller directly underneath any muscle or area you want to work on, and gently roll back and forth on it. Be sure not to roll over any joints.
For hamstrings in particular, put the roller under your legs, just above the backs of your knees. Now, press your hands into the floor while lifting your rear off the ground; slowly roll back and forth along the length of your thighs.
For calves, put the roller below your knees and roll to just above the ankles, then back.
And for quads, turn over onto your stomach while placing the roller under your thighs. Prop yourself up on the elbows before you roll back and forth.
When you feel a knot or trigger point at any point in the rolling, stop when you roll onto it, and press the roller for 20 to 30 seconds to help loosen the area. But remember, you shouldn’t feel any pain while rolling; pain could indicate an injury that may need to be examined by a professional.
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