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What’s better after a hard workout than a solid massage at the hands of a sports therapist? But unless you’ve got deep pockets, shelling out the bucks to get one as often as you might like can leave your bank account as drained as your muscles. The good news is that you don’t need oodles of cash to enjoy a muscle-relievin
g massage whenever you need it. All it takes is a roller, your own body weight and a selection of moves that deliver relief right where you need it most.
If you’ve never invested in a foam roller — smooth or knobbed, and commonly found at sporting goods stores for around 20 to 40 bucks — you’re doing your muscles a major disservice.
That’s because pressing and rolling your muscles over this cylindrical marvel can help loosen and break up the trigger points (or knots) that may be causing your post-exercise pain. Regularly using a roller offers many of the same benefits as a sports massage, including reduced inflammation, scar tissue and joint stress, as well as improved circulation in the spots you need it most.
But the benefits of incorporating foam rolling into your routine go beyond ironing out postworkout kinks — it can also improve your overall flexibility and range of motion. That
extra range makes it easier for your body to recruit additional muscle fibers, so you get a more thorough workout, which will in turn yield more results.
Sample Roller Routine
Each of these exercises can be performed separately, or combined into a peppy 10-minute routine that can be done either pre- or postworkout. Since it’s best to perform roller exercises once your muscles are warm, you’ll need to do a quick five-minute warm-up if you opt to do them right before a weight-training session.
For each exercise, get into the starting position and slowly roll back and forth as described for 20 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. As you roll, take deep, slow breaths. Always avoid rolling onto your joints — the roller should stay positioned under your muscles at all times — and if you hit a particularly tender spot, stop rolling and apply direct pressure to ease the tightness.
If you’re new to foam rolling, only incorporate this series of moves into your routine every other day for the first two to three weeks. After that, try doing it once or twice daily.
1. Greet the day
2. Lat roll
4. Sunny side up
5. Glute roll
6. Low and high roller