Let’s start with a funny story. I have permission to share this story of one of my clients by the way, I just absolutely love it. One of my girls wanted to learn about foam roller exercises but she was a bit nervous about it and wasn’t sure where to start. Which is where a lot of people are and that’s okay!
We talked through it and the first time she tried she said “I kept falling off and I think my butt was in the air constantly. I’m pretty sure people thought I was a nut case.” God love her, we were both chuckling over that and it got me to thinking. There’s got to be a way to help out some other gals with this.
Enter Foam Rolling
Foam roller exercises are something I recommend often. They are absolutely fantastic for easing muscle soreness and I often will foam roll as part of my warm up when I go to the gym.
I’m not a fan of stretching cold muscles. To me, it’s like stretching a cold rubber band, it’s more likely to break right? To me, stretching cold muscles is uncomfortable which is why I always stretch after my workouts.
There are some coaches that think that foam rolling is a waste of time. However, I beg to differ. Foam rolling has been highly effective in helping ease muscles soreness for both myself and my clients.
Where do you start?
First, you need a foam roller! They are not expensive at all and to be quite honest I’ve never seen one break. I’m sure they wear out at some point, but they last so well, I’ve never had to replace mine.
You can grab one on Amazon for around $15-$20 and they’re available for Prime shipping! Tip- Be sure to grab one that is 18 inches or longer! I’m sure you could get them at a Sporting Goods store but to be quite frank, I don’t really remember ever seeing one in either of my local shops. I have seen them on other websites and they’re way more expensive than Amazon. I’m all about a bargain and this is a bargain for a foam roller!
You have your Foam Roller, now it’s time to roll!
The printable that you can download below is a breakdown of each of the six exercises I’m about to introduce to you. It’s something you can keep in front of you until you get the hang of foam rolling!
Plus, when you download the printable, I’ll send you a weekly newsletter on Fridays giving you some encouragement plus free fitness info that I typically don’t post anywhere else!
Quick Tip before we start on the exercises, mama: when doing foam roller exercises I don’t necessarily recommend doing reps, I recommend going by time.
I struggle with muscles knotting up in my back, so I spend more time rolling out my back than I would my quads which are fairly flexible. So I might roll my back for 2 minutes at a time, roll my quads and IT band between 30 seconds to a minute, etc. I recommend at least 30 seconds each spot but no more than 2 minutes.
Foam Roller Exercises #1 – Rolling out the Back
While laying on your back, place the foam roller at your lower traps. Keep your core nice and tight lift your bum off the ground and use your legs to push your self back and forth so that the foam roller is rolling up and down your back.
Take a look at the below picture, this is me, mid-roll. The foam roller rolls from the top of my butt, to the bottom of my shoulders. I am in complete control the entire time that I am rolling.
Remember that if you ever feel the foam roller getting away from you, simply drop your butt to the floor and sit up. While you’re rolling, remember to relax. Your breathing should never be labored while rolling, it should be nice and deep while feeling your muscles relax.
Foam Roller Exercises #2 – IT Band Roll Out
This one might be a bit tricky but it’s worth the learning curve! Our IT bands can get really tight, especially for us runner gals and when we have leg day at the gym.
Lie on your side and place the foam roller right beneath your hip as pictured below. Then, using your arm and your top leg that has its foot firmly on the ground for balance, roll back and forth from the crease off your butt to the top of your knee.
With this exercise, it will be very easy to let your ab muscles go slack because you’re focusing on other things such as balance. Your tight core however is super important!
Heads Up: Some girl’s IT bands are REALLY tight so this might be uncomfortable at first until you get it rolled out, but you should never ever be in pain.
Foam Roller Exercises #3 – Quad Roll Out
This exercise is really similar to the IT band roll out. Same concept, just different position and muscle.
Lay on your stomach and push yourself up into a push up position. Place the foam roller at the top of your quad, right below your groin area. Your hands are on the floor for balance and your opposite leg is bent with the foot firmly on the floor for balance.
Pull the core in tight and do not let the back sway down towards the floor, your back should always be in neutral spine. Once positioned, begin to roll from this beginning position, down to the top of the knee (never roll over the knee cap!), then back up to the top position.
Don’t forget to roll both legs!
Foam Roller Exercises #4 – Glute and Hamstring Roll Out
Alright! Time to roll out the butt and the backs of your legs.
While sitting on the foam roller, right at the crease underneath your behind, roll down to the top of the back of your knee then back to this starting position.
I like to sit to one side using my arm as balance as pictured below then switch sides for a more targeted roll.
If your glutes are not like mine and they’re super flexible then you can actually take your foot and cross it over your knee like you’re sitting in a chair (for an example see very top picture in this post, for foot position). That is an advanced position, I don’t recommend starting out that way!
Foam Roller Exercises #5 – Lats Roll Out
Moving on to the upper body…
Lie on your side and place the foam roller right under your arm pit (starting position is in below picture). Keeping your core nice and tight, lift your butt off of the ground and roll from the starting position to the top of your hip and back up to the starting position.
This is another area that might be tender for some girls, so remember, you should never be in pain! It might be uncomfortable and awkward until you get used to it, but never ever should be in pain!
Foam Roller Exercises #6 – Relaxation Pose
This is one of my favorites to do. This is the position I will often get in to really relax and focus on my breathing. This typically isn’t something that I will do at the beginning of a workout, this will be part of my cool down, once I have gotten my heart rate down from walking around or light rowing, because it is so relaxing.
Remember that this exercise only works if you have at least the 18 inch foam roller! Also, getting into this position can be awkward until you get the hang of it and have that balance, but don’t be afraid to try new things!
Take the foam roller and lay it long ways down your spine while lying on your back. The foam roller should fit nicely between your scaps. Keep your knees in a bent position to keep your balance and as always, keep your core super tight and let your arms fall to the floor. Start breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Once you have your balance and are comfortable, try closing your eyes. Really focus on letting your body relax and melt. Think about all of the great things you just did during your workout for your body and how you have just celebrated all the great things your body can do.
This is a great time to meditate and pray. Take this few minutes to focus on you, your body and it being a celebration of what you just accomplished.
Let’s sum all of that info up
Let’s take a quick sec and sum all of that info up. 6 exercises that are specific to the foam roller to help you with easing those sore muscles.
These exercises take different parts of your body and work them out in a relaxing way to help them loosen up and help relieve that soreness
Foam Rolling really can change the way your body responds to muscle soreness. I know it has for me and for my clients as they go on their journey. Rest and relaxation really are as important as your workouts and this foam roller gets you started on that right direction.
Remember to enjoy your workouts. Your workouts should never be a punishment for what you ate or for missing a workout. They truly should be a celebration of what your amazing body can do.
Grab a foam roller (remember to make it at least 18 inches) and get to rolling!
You’ve got this, mama!
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