Rollers can be found in every room of every fitness facility. And, for good reason. A regular regimen of foam rolling is proven to alleviate muscle knots and trigger points, speed post-workout recovery and increase flexibility.
In order to realize the benefits of rolling, you’ll need to understand how to do it properly. Here’s a 90 second video to illustrate the proper rolling techniques for each of the major muscle groups:
- NEVER ROLL THE NECK: If you have tightness in the neck area, roll the shoulder complex in the upper back in the shoulder blade area.
- NEVER ROLL DIRECTLY ON THE LOWER BACK: Lower back tightness is often caused by muscle tightness in the mid-back, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Roll those muscle areas instead. Note in the video that the mid-back muscles aren’t rolled flat on the spine. Instead, roll the left and right sides of the mid-back separately, with the body turned out slightly, to avoid rolling directly on the spine.
- ROCK & ROLL: As seen in the video, for the large muscles of the hips and legs (glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves), include a rocking motion side-to-side along with the vertical rolling.
- GROUPS OF MUSCLES NEED EXTRA LOVE: The hamstrings (back of thigh), quadriceps (front of thigh) and calf muscles are groups of long muscles that run vertically between the hips and knees and knees and ankles. Note in the video, the model switches the angle slightly when rolling these areas to ensure that each muscle of these groups gets some rolling love.
- BREATH: Rolling can be painful, especially if you have some knots. The natural response is to hold your breath when you hit those trigger points. But, holding your breath will be counterproductive. Once you have your body positioned properly to begin rolling, put all your mental focus on breathing deeply throughout the rocking and rolling process.
Finally, as can be expected with any hot fitness product, there are lots of shapes, sizes and textures of rollers out there. Which one should you get? The good news is there really isn’t a “wrong” roller. It’s more a matter of what type works best for you.
Length: The long rollers, like the one used in the video, make it easy to do the upper back all at once. But, if space or storage constraints make getting a long one unattractive, all the other muscle groups are easily accessed with a shorter version and you can roll the upper back in two steps as you would with the mid-back.
Texture & Firmness: All rollers work, but the deeper you can get into the muscle, the faster they work. The firmer the roller is and the more textured the roller is, the deeper into the tissue the roller gets and the more efficient the rolling. But, as stated before, rolling is painful at times and we all have different tolerance levels for pain. You don’t want to get a roller that is so painful you won’t use it. Begin with an inexpensive, solid foam (not plastic), untextured roller. Eventually, you can work your way up to a firmer, knobby roller, but only if you can tolerate it. There are also vibrating rollers on the market that make it easier to tolerate a firmer, more textured roller.
Rollers are no fad fitness prop. They work. Rock and roll your way to fit!
For more facts on rollers, read my previous post here.