If you're new to myofacial rolling or simply foam rolling, the idea is simple. Using your own body weight and agility, you roll specific muscle groups against a firm foam roller to mimic a deep, gliding massage.
Potential benefits of foam rolling include
Improved blood circulation in your skin, fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Better overall cellular function and inter-cellular communication.
Lengthening of short (tight) muscles, tendons, and ligaments. With a foam roller, you can apply deep pressure massage to such areas and lengthen shortened tissues, thereby preventing physical imbalances that can predispose you to injury.
Promotion of optimal spinal range of motion.
Essentially, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue. These adhesions can “create points of weakness or susceptibility in the tissue,” according to Chris Howard, C.S.C.S. and LMT at Cressey Performance. “If the muscle isn't contracting uniformly from end-to-end, it could lead to injury and pain.” Foam rolling also increases blood flow to your muscles and creates better mobility, helping with recovery and improving performance. You can pick up a foam roller on amazon here.
Below are a series of instructional videos targeting the shoulders, wrists, back, neck, and arms - critical areas for those of us spending long hours on our laptops.
If you're looking for deeper penetration, try a lacrosse ball.
For acute pain, here are some recommendations from Men's Health Magazine
FOR LOWER-BACK PAIN
// ROLL YOUR HAMSTRINGS
Looser hamstrings won’t just help to cure back pain. They will also up sports performance.
What to do: Sit on a foam roller with your legs outstretched, and support yourself by placing your hands on the floor behind you. Position yourself so the roller is directly under your hamstrings. Slowly roll forwards and back from the base of your glutes to the bend in your knee for 30 seconds. Try it with your feet turned out and then with your feet turned in to work your hammies from all angles. You can increase the pressure by stacking on leg on top of the other.
FOR RUNNER'S KNEE
// ROLL YOUR ILLOTBIAL BAND
This muscle runs along the outside of your leg and often becomes over-tight from high mileage hoofing making stairs a daunting prospect.
What to do: Lie on your side and slip the roller under your thigh. Cross your other foot over and put it on the floor. Roll back and forth for 30 seconds from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee. To increase the pressure, take your bracing leg off the floor and stack it on top of the leg you’re massaging.
// ROLL YOUR QUADRICEPS
Tight quads can tug on your patellar tendons, causing pain around the kneecaps.
What to do: To keep your knees healthy and loose, lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs. Holding the body straight, roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh for 30 seconds. Bend the knees to increase the pressure. Pogoing at gigs now holds no fear for you.
FOR UPPER-BACK PAIN
// ROLL YOUR THORACIC SPINE
Big chest muscles, weak back muscles, and sitting all day can conspire to cause pain from your neck to your lumbar region.
What to do: Lie on your back and place the foam roller beneath your upper neck, near your shoulder blades. Your feet and backside should be on the ground and your hands behind your head. Now brace your abs and slowly work the roller for 30 seconds up and down your upper neck – from shoulder blades to your middle back (not your lower back).