Are adhesions deep in the longissimus dorsi of your sacrospinalis in need of kneading? Let’s put it another way: Does your butt hurt? Well, a simple closed-cell foam roller could be your cheap ticket away from pain – a solution just as effective as an expensive, full-body massage, and without the lavender-scented oil.
SOOTHE YOUR MUSCLES
Self-massage with foam rollers is all the rage among elite athletes – even regular gym goers (and not just because it feels good). In fact, it can help you train better and harder.
You won’t find a lot of scientific research on foam roller therapy, but anecdotal love letters from physical therapists and strength coaches abound, says Mike Robertson, coowner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training in the US.
“It helps stiff muscles relax and breaks down scar tissue, and improves your range of motion,” he says. All of which can lead to a more productive workout, and help you build more muscle and greater strength as a result. That’s why foam rollers have found a place in professional training rooms around the world.
IMPROVE YOUR FLEXIBILITY
Foam roller massage can be useful even if you rarely find yourself in a squat rack. Flexibility and mobility become increasingly important to good health in your 30s and 40s, when your joints begin to lose some motion and lubrication, says Harold Millman, a rehabilitation specialist from the US.
No matter how old you are, a foam roller massage can do wonders to loosen up those knots in your body. Whether you’re an athlete or a desk jockey, you can benefit from a ride on a foam roller.
FIVE FOAM ROLLER EXERCISES
Do these exercises before your workout – or at any time – and you’ll attack the most common tight-muscle problems for men.
|MASSAGE YOUR…||HOW TO DO IT|
BEST FOR RUNNER’S KNEE
Your iliotibial band (ITB) runs along the outside of your leg from hip to knee. It often becomes too tight from high-mileage hoofing.
|Lie on your right side, while propping yourself up with your elbow and forearm. Slip a foam roller beneath the outside of your right thigh and lift your right foot. Cross your left leg over your right and plant your left foot on the floor.
Now, roll back and forth for 30 seconds from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee. Then turn over and work your left ITB.
To increase pressure, take your bracing leg off the floor and stack it on top of the leg you’re massaging.
BEST FOR SCIATICA
Tension in the piriformis (between your sacrum and the top of your femur) can irritate the sciatic nerve, causing butt and hamstring pain.
|Sit on a foam roller and support yourself by placing your left hand on the floor. Now, lift your left leg and place your ankle across your right bent knee, holding it there with your right hand. Lean to your left and position yourself so the roller is directly under your left butt cheek.
Roll back and forth over the piriformis. Alternate positions to hit the muscle from different angles until you find the hot spot. Roll for 30 seconds, and then do your right butt cheek.
BEST FOR UPPERBACK MOBILITY
Big chest muscles, weak back muscles
|Lie on your back and place a foam roller beneath your upper back, near your shoulder blades. Your feet and butt should be on the ground, and your hands behind your head.
Now, brace your abs as if you were about to be punched in the stomach, and slowly work the roller for 30 seconds up and down your upper back – that is, from your shoulder blades to your middle back (not your lower back).
BEST FOR LOWERBACK PAIN
Inflexible hamstrings can interfere with sports performance and cause lower-back pain.
|Sit on a foam roller with your legs outstretched, and support yourself by placing your hands on the floor behind you.
Position yourself so the roller is directly under your hamstrings. Slowly roll forward and back from the base of your glutes to the bend in your knee for 30 seconds.
Try it with your feet turned out and then with your feet turned in, to work the hams from all angles. You can increase the pressure by stacking one leg on top of the other.
BEST FOR JUMPER’S KNEE
Tight quads can tug on your patellar tendons, causing pain around your kneecaps.
|To keep your knees healthy and loose, lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs.
Holding your body straight, roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh for 30 seconds. Bend your knees to increase the pressure.