If you’re working from home, you may not be getting in as much movement as you typically do when you commute to your job, walk around your office, run errands and more. Although you may not be able to get to the gym right now, stay committed to exercising regularly for your physical and mental health.
One easy way to relieve tight muscles from sitting at a desk all day, or from regular workouts, is using a foam roller. From 18 inches to 36 inches long, these cylindrical tools massage your muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia to release tension, alleviate pain and soreness and improve range of motion. If you don’t have one, they are inexpensive and widely available, and a valuable accessory.
Using a foam roller can be a “hurts-so-good” experience, where you typically feel some discomfort, but the overall results of decreased tension and enhanced relaxation are worth it. Don’t let your foam roller collect dust, but take advantage of its many benefits, before or after workouts, or at any time during your day. You can even roll while Netflix binging!
Note these tips for foam rolling exercises:
- Roll slowly to most effectively break up fascia, spending 20-30 seconds on an individual area.
- You can roll, gently rock back and forth or simply hold still, according to your needs and preferences.
- Choose areas to roll that typically get tight, such as the back, glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads and calves.
- Breathe naturally.
- Stop if you experience intense pain.
Top Foam Rolling Exercises
- Back – Sit on the floor with the foam roller under lower back, with knees bent and hands loosely behind head. Engage abs and move roller up the back to the shoulder blades. Roll back to start. Be careful not to hold roller at lumbar spine, which can accentuate a lordotic curvature.
- Glutes – Sitting on foam roller, cross right leg over left knee and lean toward left hip, putting weight on left hand for support. Slowly roll over left butt cheek. Switch sides.
- Hamstrings — Sit with right leg on foam roller, left knee bent and hands on floor behind you. Roll up to glute and down toward the knee. Switch legs.
- Hips and outer thighs – Lie on right side, with foam roller under right hip and right hand under right shoulder. Engaging core for balance, use right arm to slowly roll down from right hip to right knee, and then back up the leg. Repeat on other leg.
- Quads – Lie face down on the floor and place foam roller under pelvis. Roll down to the knees and back up to hips.
- Hip flexors – In forearm plank position, place roller under right hip, and bend left knee wide to the side. Roll slowly down and up from the top of the hip to the top of the quads. Repeat on other side.
- Lats – Lying on your right side, position the roller under your right armpit. With right leg straight, bend left knee and prop foot in back of right leg for balance. Roll down to your ribcage and back up toward your armpit. Repeat on other side.
- Calves – Seated on floor with legs extended in front of you, place roller under calves. Bend left knee and rest left ankle lightly on right thigh, and place hands on floor behind you to support weight. Lift hips and roll up to knee and down to ankle. Repeat on other leg.
- Shins – On hands and knees, place the foam roller under shins. Shift weight forward, and roll toward knees, then back toward ankles.