As you age, you lose elasticity in your joints and connective tissue—and suddenly, you can end up feeling pain while completing the simplest of tasks, like walking up the stairs. Research shows that a massage can reduce stiffness and soreness by more than 40%. However, a foam roller offers an even better (and cheaper!) way to rid yourself of nagging aches, pains, and soreness, all from the comfort of your home or office!
Foam rolling is a type of self-myofascial release in which pressure is applied to certain body parts to relieve pain. Because of this, trainers and physical therapists refer to their foam roller as their secret weapon against pain. Similar to an old-fashioned rubdown, foam rolling breaks up fibrous tissue and boosts circulation so you're less sore. When combined with static stretching, studies show that foam rolling can also lead to increased flexibility and reduced inflammation, scar tissue, and joint stress, as well as, improved circulation and range of motion.
These exercises can be performed separately, or you can combine them into a 10-minute pre or post workout routine. 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 training session.
For each exercise, 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 to help your muscles relax. Always avoid rolling onto your joints - the roller should stay positioned under your muscles at all times. If you hit a particularly tight or tender spot, stop rolling and apply direct pressure until the pain subsides. If you're new to foam rolling, start by incorporating these exercises into your routine every other day for 2-3 weeks. After that, you can try doing it once or twice daily - both before and immediately after your workouts.
Enjoy and have fun rolling!