Using a foam roller to reduce muscle tension
The foam roller is probably the most inexpensive workout equipment money can buy. Starting out as a piece of equipment that was only used by professional athletes and fitness therapists, it’s now gaining popularity amongst the general population. The most common use of the foam roller is for self-myofascial release, also know as self-massage.
Foam rolling will help you release muscle tension and soreness in workout sessions shorter that take less than 10 minutes to complete. There are many muscles you can target with foam rolling. The main advantage is that besides reducing the tension built up in your muscles, it also helps tonify them in the process. If you feel tension in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, traps or back muscles, foam rolling is the way to go.
The main technique is very simple. You put your foam roller underneath the targeted muscles, and you lean on it, keeping yourself in position for 5-15 seconds at a time, repeating for 3 to 5 times, depending on your needs. You can also keep repeating the exercise until you feel your muscles relaxing. There are different body positions that you have to take on the foam roller in order to target specific muscles.
For example, if you want to release tension from your back muscles, you’ll need to lie on your back, with the foam roller underneath you, bend your knees and hold the position with your abs as tight as you can. Instead, if you’re trying to release tension from your leg muscles, you’ll have to do it one leg at a time, while the other is pressed firmly on the ground. If you want to relax your hip muscles, you’ll have to lie on one side, with your hip pressing on the foam roller and the opposite leg placed firmly on the ground, in front of you. Another example would be that of relaxing the quads. Whenever you’re having sore quads, put the foam roller underneath both your legs, and take a back-extension pose. From this position, roll your body on the foam roller from your knees to your hips, stopping for 5-10 seconds on the sore spots.
All of these various techniques lead to the same outcome, and that’s muscle relaxation. It’s like a self-administered massage for your sore muscles. You should always watch your balance and take care of the amount of pressure you put on your muscles and on the foam roller. Using your balance and free body parts, control the amount of pressure you apply to your muscles. Too much pressure too fast may lead to increased discomfort or even more muscle pain. If you’re a beginner, apply pressure gradually and you’ll be fine.