Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release in which pressure is applied to certain body parts to relieve pain.
Now a staple warmup in many gyms, foam rolling has been found to significantly increase range of motion. When combined with static stretching, foam rolling can lead to impressive flexibility improvements, according to a study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation.
“Foam rolling limits soreness and tightness by increasing blood flow and flexibility,” says New Jersey-based personal trainer Francisco Cabreja. “When the muscles are tight, injuries such as tears are more likely to occur.”
Do these 10 foam rolling moves to get every major muscle group firing properly.
Perform each foam rolling exercise for 20-30 seconds. Roll for longer at points of major discomfort.
1. Upper Back Roll
Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back. Alternate sides.
2. Calf Roll
While seated, place a foam roller underneath your lower leg with the other leg placed on the floor supporting some of your weight. Place hands at sides or just behind you, and press down to raise your hips off of the floor, placing your weight against your calf muscle. Roll from below the knee to above the ankle. Repeat on opposite leg.
3. Groin Roll
Lie face down with one leg on top of a foam roller so it’s against your inner thigh. Shift as much weight onto the foam roll as can be tolerated. While trying to relax the muscles of the inner thigh, roll over the area between your hip and knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
4. IT Band Roll
Lie on your side with bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee and top leg crossed in front of you. Place as much of your weight as is tolerable onto your bottom leg. Roll your leg over the foam from your hip to your knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
5. Hamstrings Roll
While seated, extend your legs over a foam roller so that it is positioning on the back of the upper legs. Place your hands to the side or behind you to help support your weight. Using your hands, lift hips off of the floor and shift your weight on the foam roll to one leg. Relax the hamstrings of the leg you are stretching. Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee. Repeat on opposite leg.
6. Quadriceps Roll
Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roller underneath one leg and keep that foot off the ground. Shifting as much weight onto the leg to be stretched as is tolerable, roll from above the knee to below the hip. Repeat on opposite side.
7. Lats Roll
While lying on the floor, place a foam roller under your back and to one side, just behind your armpit. Keep the arm of the side being stretched to your side as you shift your weight onto your lats, keeping your upper body off of the ground. Repeat on opposite side.
8. Glutes Roll
Sit with your butt on top of a foam roller. Bend your knees, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over the knee. Shift your weight to the side of the crossed leg, rolling over your glutes until you feel tension. Repeat on opposite side.
9. Lower Back Roll
In a seated position, place a foam roller under your lower back. Cross your arms in front of you and protract your shoulders. Raise your hips off of the floor and lean back, keeping your weight on your lower back. Now roll over back and forward, keeping your weight off of the spine and on the muscles to one side of it. Roll over your lower back. Repeat on the other side.
10. Chest Roll
Place a foam roller on the floor. Lay face down with the foam roller at shoulder height and extend one arm forward. With the foam roller just below your armpit, press your chest into the foam and roll in small movements and release tension in your chest. Roll back and forth on your chest, then extend your other arm and repeat.
Alternatively, you can use a foam roller (shown here with a bar) to roll your chest from a supine position.