Photos by Ryan Murphy

Roll the Pain Away

If you’re searching for a new technique to instantly improve your fitness routine, look no further than the foam roller. It’s a secret weapon for improving range of motion, relieving pain and preventing injuries.

The technical term for the secret is “self-myofascial release.” Essentially, giving yourself a massage.

Foam rolling stimulates the fascia, or connective tissue, around your muscles, which increases blood flow, loosens tight spots and improves mobility.

Everyone from athletes to beginners can benefit from adding foam rolling to their routine. Perform the exercise before your workout as part of your warm-up for best results. Use the foam roller only on soft-tissue areas, and avoid joints and your lower back and neck. Roll up and down slowly for 30-60 seconds, spending extra time on any particularly tight areas. Stop if you feel pain. 

Calves Place the roller under your legs, just above the ankles. Work it up and down slowly, avoiding the area just behind your knees.

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Hamstrings With the foam under one or both legs, roll from just above the back of your knee to the point where your hamstrings meet your gluteus muscles.

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Quads In a plank position, place the foam under your thighs. Roll from just below your hip joint to the soft spot just above your knee. Be sure to keep your core engaged and avoid arching your lower back.

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IT Band Lie on your side with the roller under your hip. Apply light pressure, rolling from your hip joint to just above the knee.

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Upper Back Place the foam roller just below your shoulder blades. With your arms above your head, roll up and down and side to side, being careful to avoid the back of your neck and your lower back.

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Arms Lie on your side and place the roller underneath the back of your upper arm. Rock back and forth, allowing the foam to slide from your armpit to just above your elbow.

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