Raise your hand if you have tight ham strings, low back pain, constantly sore shoulders and traps, chronic headaches, sciatic pain radiating down your legs or all of the above. You are not alone. With more of our lives spent at a desk, hunkered over a computer, or long commutes stuck in the same curved spinal posture it’s prevalent that most adults suffer from one or more of these painful muscular issues. Postural distortions are rampant (see my article “What About Posture“) and those of us that make fitness a priority, often unintentionally add to the tension in those muscle groups.
So what can you do to easily, quickly, and affordably get relief. Just roll with it!
When passing through your gym or local sporting goods store (or even Target) you may have seen an innocuous looking white round foam roll – this is known as a foam roller, or it’s official name, SMR Roller. SMR stands for Self-Myofascial Release. May sound kinky, but it’s a $25 massage and chiropractic appointment all bundled into a space saving 36″ chunk of foam.
In simple terms, foam rolling is a stretching technique that increases flexibility by decreasing muscle tightness. It’s positive effects can be felt within minutes, and almost everyone regardless of their physical condition can use a foam roller. Benefits range from relief of muscle soreness, improvement of joint range of motion and posture, and a significant decrease in tension and pain from neck, shoulders, back, butt, and legs.
So how do you Roll?
Start by lying on your back on top of the roller vertically (above photo), or placing it under your glutes or shoulders horizontally (below photo), then slowly roll back and forth over the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Then hold gentle but firm and consistent pressure on that spot for about 30-90 seconds. Now resume slowly rolling back and forth or progressing down from that tender spot until no more muscle tenderness is felt.
For the glutes and legs sit on the roller, then supporting yourself with your hands on the floor behind you, lean back, and begin a slow roll from the top of your hips/glutes all the way through your hamstrings. You can separately roll out your calf muscles if they are tight too.
It might sound cumbersome, but it’s really very easy and almost natural once you give it a try. I am happy to conduct a skype conference call if you would like a demonstration, and clearly there are many photos and videos on the internet that demonstrate as well.
I cannot recommend this affordable essential tool in helping you have a happy, health, fit body. So get rolling!