Four Muscle Release Exercises
This humble piece of cylindrical foam is often simultaneously the most hated and the most loved piece of equipment. I’m talking about the foam roller. Many of you will have noticed these rollers floating around your gym or maybe you have one gathering dust in your living room.
Foam rollers are mainly used as a form of self-myofascial release by breaking down scar tissue and adhesions, making fascia (the covering surrounding muscle tissue) and muscles more flexible, but they also have a multitude of other uses. I am going to focus on the myofascial release part but stay tuned for how to use your foam roller for a killer workout!
Your Iliotibial band (ITB) is the connective tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh and is a common culprit for knee pain in runners and cyclists.
- Lie on your side, similar to a side plank position, resting on your forearm.
- Cross the top leg over the right and rest the top arm on your hip.
- Bend the bottom knee about 30°. This is an important (and often forgotten) step as the ITB must be in its lengthened position to achieve best results.
- Slowly roll up and down your ITB ensuring that you are stopping just above the knee joint. DO NOT roll over the knee.
- Also make sure that you are rolling the ITB and not drifting to the front or back of the thigh.
HOT TIP: I like to split it into two halves, top half and bottom half, rolling each for 60 seconds. Don’t forget the other side!
This is my all time favourite exercise to give to anyone that is desk bound, or stiff in the neck, top of the shoulders or upper back.
- Start in a bridge position, knees bent and bottom lifted, with the foam roller positioned horizontally across your back.
- Interlink your fingers and support the weight of the head and neck.
- Slowly roll from the mid thoracic spine (bra strap territory) to the base of your neck. Do not roll into your lower back. Try to avoid crunching the head up and keep your gaze looking to the ceiling. You may need to lift your bum higher to get to the base of the neck.
- Try to keep it up for 2 minutes!
HOT TIP: Ladies don’t forget to tie your hair back, trust me, you don’t want to get your mane caught under there!
The Latissmus Dorsi, or ‘lats’ as they are commonly known, are the widest muscle in the human body, and an important player in posture as well as shoulder function. Especially for those of you that enjoy boxing, this is where the power of your hooks and crosses comes from.
- Lie on your side with your arm extended above the head, knees bent, and rest the roller in your armpit.
- Roll back slightly so that you are resting on the outside border of your shoulder blade.
- Roll up and down slowly, and focus on any sore spots for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
HOT TIP: Don’t forget to breathe!
This is a great one to target those gluteals, brilliant for low back pain or recovery from squat jumps.
- Sit on the foam roller and rest your hands behind you.
- Cross an ankle over the opposite knee, then roll onto the butt cheek that is on stretch (if the right ankle is crossed over the right knee, roll to the right). The knee in the air should be pointing down to the ground.
- You know the drill, 60 seconds each side.
HOT TIP: You’ll know when you’re in the right spot as you usually get that “PHWOAR” moment.