How to Use Foam Rollers to Relieve Pain and Muscle Tension in Your Back and Legs
By: Brian Acton
A foam roller is one of the best ways to relieve tightness in muscles due to injury or exercise. This is because foam rolling facilitates myofascial release
– a process jumpstarted when you apply pressure on muscle tissue. This process improves circulation, increases blood flow to the muscles, and breaks down tension that stems from injuries or exercise. If you go to the gym, you’ve likely seen people using foam rollers on their legs or back to rehab after a tough workout.
Foam rollers are so appealing because they’re inexpensive and easy to use – all you need is the foam roller, your body, and a small area on the floor to get started. Here are a few of the best ways to use a foam roller to relieve tension and relax the muscles in your back and legs:
For Your Back
There are a few great methods for treating your back – whether it be for back pain or to release tension built up from exercise.
For Your Legs
Lower back: Lie on your back with the foam roller resting beneath your lower back. Pull up your left leg and hug the knee, pulling it towards your chest. Now, putting your weight on the left side of your back, roll on the roller from just above your butt to your rib cage. Repeat this motion slowly 10 times, and then repeat on the other side. Do not roll directly on your spine.
Upper back: Move the foam roller up a bit from the last exercise to just beneath your shoulder blades. Cross your arms across your chest, and lay your head back against the ground to give yourself a good stretch. Hold this position for 30 – 90 seconds, and then move the roller up or down a few centimeters and repeat. You can continue this exercise by then moving your arms above your head and rolling the foam roller up and down your upper back. If necessary, you can place your feel flat on the ground and raise your knees to push and pull yourself along.
Hamstrings: Place the foam roller beneath your upper hamstring muscles (your thighs below your glutes). Cross one leg over the other and roll down from your glutes to just above your knee, then back. Repeat this process 10-12 times, then switch to the other side.
Calves: Bring the roller under your calf, keeping your hands behind you on the floor for support, with your butt off the floor. Slowly roll from below your knee to your ankle, working different angles and hitting all sides of your calf. Repeat this motion 10-12 times, then switch legs and do it all over again.
Thighs: To ease pain in your thighs, turn over so that you’re facing the floor, with your thighs on top of the roller, and your hands supporting you (your feet should not be touching the ground). Squeezing your abs, lift your torso up and roll the roller between your hips and knees, working sore spots. Repeat this motion 10-12 times.
If any of these motions causes severe pain, you should stop immediately. Personal trainers and massage therapists can often provide specialized assistance for your specific body needs. Need a foam roller? Check out our complete set of performance rollers
to set your muscles at ease and relieve back and leg tension. Or, if you have some smaller areas – such as wrists or elbows – that need extra attention, check out our mini rollers