Introduction: How to Use a Foam Roller Before Exercise
One of the most common mistakes that both newcomers and veterans alike make before high intensity exercise is improper preparation. The term "getting warm" comes to mind but few know what it actually means. Preparing the muscles for stretch and strain by increasing the internal temperature and blood flow is key to reduce the chance of injury. This tutorial will show steps on how to do so. Enjoy and get warm!
1 high density foam roller
Step 1: Lower Body
When beginning the process of warming up the body, always remember it begins from toes to the top; meaning lower body first, then upper body. Tightness in the muscle begins with restrictions in the myofascial tissue that surrounds your muscle. Think of a tight net. To loosen this and increase mobility, one only has to provide light pressure to the tissue for a short period of time. Hence the foam roller. With that in mind , lay your foam roller on the ground in an area with enough space for you to stretch out.
Start with your calves. Sit on the ground and prop both legs on the roller just above the Achilles tendon.
Pick yourself off the ground with your arms and roll back and forth from starting position to the top of the calf in the crease behind your knee.
Do this 10-12 times. For more intensity and deeper muscle penetration, lift one leg off the roller at a time or place one leg on top of the other
Step 2: Movin' on Up!
The legs have the most muscle tissue in the whole body. Therefore, the majority of your time should be spent here. Next up is the quadriceps on the front of your leg. Like the name suggest there is 4 muscles in this area. Make sure to get them all.
Lay on the roller face down with the both legs propped up right above the knee cap. Press up and lift yourself off the ground resting most of your weight on the legs.
Much like the calves, roll back and forth from starting position all the way to the hip bone and back down. To focus on the inside of the quad, turn your toes outward. To shift focus to the ouside, point your toes toward each other.
Do this 10-12 times. As with the previous step, more intensity can be added by lifting one leg off the roller at a time.
Step 3: IT Band
The illiotibial band or IT band is a large band of fascia that connects from the knee to the pelvis on the outside of the leg and is responsible for stability in the knee during activity. It is very important to give attention to this as well.
Lay on your side on the roller with it positioned below your waist on the side of your glute (butt). Cross the top leg over so it is bent at the knee and place your foot flat on the ground. Prop yourself up with your forearm and use it to roll back and forth all the way down the side of your knee and back up.
Do this 10-12 times. Flip over and repeat on the opposite leg.
Step 4: Glutes and Hamstrings
The hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and erector spinae (lower back), make up what is called the posterior chain and as the name suggests, are somewhat connected in activities which require bending at the waist. To reduce the chance of lower back injury it is important to get all 3.
Sit on the ground and position the foam roller under your legs right above the crease in behind your knee.
Prop yourself up with your arms and roll from the start position all the way to the bottom of the gluteus and back.
Do this 10-12 times. As always, one leg at a time provides more intensity.
Move your position to be sitting directly on the roller and roll glutes back and forth using your feet. For better deeper release here, cross one leg over the other so that the outside of the ankle is resting on the knee. Shift weight to the crossed leg side, and roll back and forth.
Step 5: Last But Not Least, the Back and Shoulders
The back is the second most densely muscle packed area on the body. Make sure to sufficiently roll here as well.
First is the lower back.
Lay with the roller in the small of your back. Use your feet to roll back and forth to right underneath your shoulder blades. Shifting your weight to either side will provide more emphasis on that half of the muscles. Do this 10-12 times.
Next is shoulders and upper back.
Move up the back and rest the roller on the shoulder blades. Roll all the way to the base of the neck and back down. Do this 10 to 12 times.
Next, shift to one side and lift your arm straight up over your head. Roll back and forth here 10-12 times and repeat on the other side.
Step 6: El Fin.
This concludes your foam rolling tutuorial. Utilizing this method of muscle release on a regular basis will not only reduce your risk of injury, but should also help with overall mobility in time. I suggest you do this before every workout. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes and what is 5 minutes when talking about your health? Feel free to print this and use it as a reference until you get the hang of it. Have a great workout!