Ol’ Punxsutawny Phil saw his shadow yesterday, so that means six more weeks of winter… and for those of us in sunny AZ, that means six more weeks of 60-70 degree weather! Yippee for running season! Many of us across the country are conditioning for some sort of a race in the spring. I happen to be training for the Phoenix (Half) Marathon on March 1st. With more miles comes tighter, tired muscles and as we all know, those conditions easily lead to injury.
Just in case you haven’t seen (or noticed) a foam roller at the gym, here are two types I like to use. The big blue one gets used for everything (including building forts around here, ha ha!) My brother talked me into picking up the black one- it’s called a Rumble Roller. The little foam knobbies on it stimulate deeper layers of muscle tissue as you roll. It’s intense!
The concept behind foam rolling is simple: by using your own body weight and agility, you roll specific muscle groups against a firm foam roller to imitate a deep, gliding massage. I’ve used foam rollers in with students in several class settings- Pilates, yoga, even strength training- but these days I’m loving a five minute roller session after a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class or a long run. After my eleven mile run Saturday morning, I made a short vid of my five favorite exercises.
Upper Back: Get into a “bridge” position, cradle your head, and roll from your shoulders down to your bra line (you know what I mean, guys.)
IT (Iliotibial Tract) Band: Resting on your forearm, roll from the side of the knee all the way up to the hip. Keep a long spine. This one is especially great for alleviating knee pain (hallelujah, runners!), and it’s also known for minimizing the appearance of cellulite!
Hamstring: My personal fave! Tuck one leg behind roller and place roller just under the thigh of the other leg. Roll the upper hamstring just enough for the foot to point and flex.
Piriformis: Sit on the roller, cross one leg over, and roll through the sitting bone area. The lower you drop the knee, the deeper the massage.
Quadriceps: Place the center of the roller under both of the upper thighs and roll, baby! The loosening of the quads will help to open the glutes as well.
*Roll one to two minutes on each side of each exercise. Be sure to avoid rolling any joints.
The next time you’re on your way out of the gym, find a roller and give it a few minutes of your precious time. It may be the closest thing to getting a massage all week (in my case, all year.) You’ll love the way you feel!