By James Braun
US Myprotein Writer
Benefits of Foam Rolling
Before we even get to the actual foam rolling exercises, I’m going to quickly explain:
✔ What foam rolling is,
✔ How to perform rolling correctly,
✔ How it’s beneficial for us fitness folk.
Basically, foam rolling is a “self-myofascial” release method that relaxes overactive muscles in the body, which in turn boosts performance. Foam rolling is a great way to release tension in the fascia surrounding your muscles, thus restoring blood flow. Tense and tight muscles can surely get in the way of many of the big lifts, namely the squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press.
The wrong way to foam roll is moving across the muscles lightly with slight pressure. What you want to do is move over the muscle slowly, applying deep pressure on the muscle. When you feel a “tight spot,” slowly move over the spot back and forth until the pressure and tightness subsides. By holding these points, your body will start to relax the muscles causing the pain to slowly go away. Also, when foam rolling, you should also feel tight spots that produce pain that refer to other areas of the body. That is, you’ll feel it in other areas than the one you’re working on.
As a final note, you can perform these exercises pre and post workout, or whenever you feel like it. Foam rolling doesn’t hinder performance, but stretching before your workout can actually sap strength. So foam roll instead! I’d recommend spending just a few minutes on each, releasing between 1 and 3 tight spots.
Foam Roller Exercises: Lower Body
1) The Hamstring Foam Roller Exercise
Tight hamstrings suck when it comes to heavy squatting and deadlifting. When doing this exercise, lie in the position as shown in the picture, and apply pressure using your other leg while stabilizing your body (and moving back and forth) with your arms. I would also recommend crossing one leg over the other, and doing each hamstring separately. This way, you’ll be able to produce more force on the hamstrings producing a stronger massage. Slowly roll and apply deep pressure in the hamstrings, and when you find a tight spot roll over it deeply. Find your tight spots, and then move on.
2) The Quadricep Foam Roller Exercise
When your quadriceps are tight, you’re going to have a bad time squatting, lunging or generally getting up off the chair! When the quads become too tight it’s much more difficult to contract them properly, which can put more load on the hip flexors when squatting. This can make it crazy difficult to progress, as proper form is crucial when it comes to the big lifts. Not to mention that your hips are going to be killing you the day after leg day.
To do this exercise, lay down in the position given in the picture, and apply deep pressure across the quadriceps. Again, use your other leg to apply more pressure on the trigger points and release them.
3) IT Band Foam Roller Exercise
The IT band runs along the outer side of your leg, and squatting regularly puts a lot of tension on this muscle, which can impair range of motion. Lay in the position given in the picture, and slowly apply deep pressure. Use your upper body and opposite leg to roll your leg across the foam roller. Release the tight spots, and you should be all set.
The Parting Message
Spending just a few minutes per week on some foam rolling can greatly improve performance, but I also want to mention that the type of foam roller you use matters. Get one that’s too hard, and you’ll end up bruised. Get one that’s too soft, and you’re just wasting your time. You want a foam roller that’s dense, but not too hard, and is able to get the job done. There are plenty of high quality(and high density) foam rollers on the market, you just have to know what to look for. I’ve personally used MyProtein’s foam roller product, and I have to say it gets the job done. Try out these lower body foam rolling movements, and you’ll be happy that you did.