Foam roller exercises do to muscles what rolling pins do to dough; break up knots and soften stubborn, tight materials. Even with stretching, proper form and the best footwear on the market, muscles can still suffer soreness from high-impact athletic training and exercise. Knotty muscle tissue needs an intense pressure massage to help break up the tightness and restore healthy muscle function. Exercising on a foam roller works that necessary force through muscles. It can be painful while the exercise is being performed, but will have immense benefits hours later, when knots are gone and no longer slow down athletes in future workouts. Balance especially tight and painful pressure points on the foam roller for a few extra seconds to achieve the maximum benefit. Do each exercise for about 30 seconds.
1. Hip Rolls
This exercise helps relieve the tightness that forms where your legs meet the trunk of your body, an area that can absorb a lot of the shock and tension from high-impact workouts. Lie on your left side with the foam roller right under your hip bone. Rest the side of your left foot on the floor, so that your legs form about a 20 degree angle to the ground. Bend your right knee and rest your right foot on the ground in front of your left knee, so that your right leg is crossing over your left. Using your left arm for balance, walk your body forward with your right arm, so that the foam roller slides down the side of your leg to above your knee. Walk your arms back toward your feet to return the roller to its original position.
2. Quad Shifts
Work the top half of your legs across a foam roller to benefit the largest group of muscles in your legs, the quadriceps. Start with legs about hip width apart, with the foam roller just above your knees. Balance the rest of your body with your forearms on the floor, with your hands just below your shoulders. Slowly walk your arms back, so that the foam roller works its way up your quads to just below your groin area. Walk your arms forward again, so that the roller comes back down your legs and returns to its original position.
3. Calve Presses
Don’t forget about the lower half of your leg. For this exercise, start with both of your hands on the ground behind you and the foam roller just under your knees. Your buttock should be a few inches off the ground and your knees should be hip width. Push your arms back so the roller slides down your calves, and come back the other way. Point your toes for an extra stretch.
4. Glute Rolls
These rolls function the same way that the quad shifts do. Instead of facing down, sit facing up with the foam roller under you, just below your buttock. Lean back on your arms and walk your hands backward on the floor so that the roller slides down to just above your knee. Walk your arms back to return the roller to its original position.