foam rolling
(Oprea Personal Fitness)

At the end of every workout session I always recommend stretching. Loosening up your tight muscle tissue is essential for keeping soreness at bay and creates a great way to come down off your workout high. I let my mind and body know that it is done for the time being and allow it to relax before heading on with my day. Traditional stretches, even the ones you learned in high school, can be perfect for this. Reaching for your toes and pulling your heel to your bum can get your legs nice and stretched, but have you ever tried rolling your body on a foam cylinder?

Foam rolling is an absolutely great tool for releasing tight muscles. It’s easy, it doesn’t require much time, and the cylinders are really cheap to buy. A cylinder is an all around must-have. But just like your very useful blender in the kitchen, for it to work, you actually have to pull it out and use it!

One area of my body that specifically bothers me, that I foam roll every day, is my IT band. All my enjoyable hours of playing soccer leave me pretty tight, so foam rolling has become part of my regular routine to keep me up and rockin’ the next day. Here’s how to do it:

1. Lay the weight of your body on your hip.2. Supporting yourself with just a hand and foot, roll all the way down to your knee, searching for the most tender area.

3. Once that tender area is found, hold your weight on that spot. This is key to the whole process.

4. Slowly go up and down the side of your leg, hitting each tender area and holding at those target spots.

If you don’t pause on the sensitive areas, you’re wasting the benefits of the roller. These trigger points are slightly different in each person and can be quite sensitive. For that reason there are different densities of rollers. I recommend the softer variety for those who find themselves particularly tight. However, the denser the foam, the better the results.

Foam rolling can be done a couple times of day, and unlike the static stretching that you used to do in school (which you should only do after at least some movement), foam rolling can be done at any time. I’m showing how to roll the IT band because it bothers me and many of my clients. But the roller can be used from your calves to your neck to help you relax!