Not done foam rolling before? It’s about time you start. By Estelle Low
You would have seen a foam roller before, in the gym or a sports supply shop. It’s similar to a masasge ball, in that it was designed to stretch the tissues in your body, improve blood circulation and ease that overall feeling of tightness. Especially useful for runners, athletes and anyone who feels tense all over!
With reduced muscle tension, your range of movement increases. Expect to feel more agile, flexible and powerful during a workout or a race.
Runners, focus on these zones recommended by Nike master trainer Marie Purvis. One of the brains behind the popular Nike+ Training Club workout app, Marie spends her time mentoring trainers, researching fitness and designing workouts for the community. (Scroll down to watch Marie demonstrate foam rolling exercises in a video!)
Besides runners, desk-bound people as well as cyclists who often round their backs for an extended period of time will benefit from foam rolling their backs, as it stretches and opens up the front of the body and chest. Rolling out the back can also help reduce tension headaches caused by stiff neck and shoulders from long hours on the computer and mobile phone.
This helps to release tension in the butt, the main area we put weight on during long hours of sitting. Not only will you gain a better range of movement in the hips, foam rolling the glutes will also unlock your performance potential especially in movements that requires powering off from the hips, such as sprints, long jump and weightlifting. This may also help to reduce back pain caused by tight glutes.
3. Iliotibial band (IT band)
Majority of us can benefit from rolling out our IT band (the ligament that runs on the side of your thigh) as it tends to be tight and lazy. Doing so helps to release and “wake up” the muscles. This is mostly beneficial for runners, cyclists and anyone doing a sport that requires leg power. It may potentially bring relief for pain around the knee.
4. Quadriceps (Quads)
Foam rolling the quads will benefit everyone, especially those doing activities that require leg movements like running. It may help to relieve pain around the knee that’s caused by tight and imbalanced leg muscles.
The calves are the most active when we do plyometric (jumping) motions, and if there’s a push-off from the feet. So those doing a sport that has some form of plyometric – think running, skipping and trampolining – would find that rolling them out helps to ease tightness in the calves. If you’re often in high heels or walk a lot, give your calves some love by foam rolling them too.
In the video below, Marie demonstrates how to foam roll your back, glutes, IT bands, quads and calves properly. Do these exercises on your rest or recovery days, or whenever you’re in need of tension release!