Using a foam roller can provide similar benefits to deep-tissue massage. By increasing flexibility and decreasing muscle tension, it can help prevent injury and improve performance.
The following foam-roller exercises should be part of your regular exercise routine. Place your body on the roller and slowly roll along the muscle group you are targeting. If you find a particularly tight area, pause on that spot. Putting pressure on a tight area will help release the tissue.
Set up as per figure 1 and slowly roll back and forth along the roller for a minute to identify any points of tension. Next, set up as in figure 2. Keeping hips on ground, arch your back as far as comfortable and then return to start position. Repeat for each point of tension, arching back and forth until you feel a decrease in pain/pressure on the area before moving on to the next.
Gluteal Muscles, Piriformis
Sit on your right side with the foam roller under your right gluteal area. Bend your left knee and rest your right foot on your left knee. Place both hands on the floor for support. Roll over your right gluteal muscles, then repeat on the other side.
Sit with the roller under your left thigh. Place the palms of your hands on the ground. Keep your right foot off the ground, crossing it over your left. Supporting your bodyweight with your hands, roll up and down from the bottom of your hip bone to the back of your knees, releasing on both the inner and outer side of the hamstring. Exercise can be completed in two sections for ease – upper and lower hamstring. Repeat on other side.
Sit with the roller under your left calf. Place the palms of your hands on the ground (fingers pointing towards the body). Keep your right foot off the ground, crossing it over the left. Supporting your body weight on your hands, roll up and down the calf muscle. Roll from inside to out. Exercise can be completed in two sections for ease – upper and lower calf. Repeat on other side.
Lie face down with the foam roller under your left thigh. Put your forearms on the ground. Either cross your right leg over the top of the left for a greater challenge or out to the side for ease. Roll up and down using the forearms and right leg to move. Roll from the front of the hip to the top of the knee. Exercise can be completed in two sections for ease – upper and lower thigh. Repeat on other side.
Lateral Quadriceps/TFL (for ITB)
Lie 45 degrees on your left side with the foam roller just below the top of your pelvic bone. Extend your left leg straight out, bend your right leg and place it in front of your left leg. Place your left elbow and forearm on the floor for balance, roll along your outer thigh from below your pelvic bone to just above your knee. Exercise can be completed in two sections for ease – upper and lower quad. Repeat on the other side.