Here’s a short clip giving you some foam rolling techniques for the legs

Foam rolling techniques

These days we tend to be much more body aware, and that awareness helps us to take better care of ourselves in terms of diet, exercise, and general well being.

Well being encompasses so many things as well as diet and exercise – sleep, stress, time to ourselves, to name but a few.  How many of us consider time out to be taking a massage, be it deep tissue, relaxing, or sports? More and more of us!! People are actually starting to realise the ongoing benefits of a good treatment in every capacity, from bad posture at work, to actual pain – whether sports related or not.

Here are just a few of the main benefits of massage:

  • it heals, and invigorates tired, aching, or injured muscles
  • it helps counteract all the sitting that you do
  • it can help soothe anxiety and depression, and lower stress
  • it helps us to relax – rest and recovery are essential in our busy lives and when training
  • it helps improve sleep
  • it relieves headaches
  • it increases blood circulation = increased oxygen and nutrients to the muscles = increased energy for muscles to use
  • it pushes away unwanted toxins from the body

With the very exciting launch of Lift Lean, the concentration is on using weights as well as our other exercise, to help us to tone up.  Using weights makes our muscles feel a lot more tired, more quickly, as they are not used to being used in this way.  But this pain (“lactic acid” effect) is good for us to feel within reason, as we are able to realise for ourselves that these muscles are now being used to good cause – within the boundaries of safe training.

Soft tissue treatment (massage) helps to get rid of this pain, and thereby increases our performance during the next workout.  This is because it is helping with the recovery process for these muscles.  It speeds recovery after a workout, and helps prevent injury.

The main impact of having a sports massage when using weights is going right back to basics – increased circulation.  This increase brings wanted blood and nutrients to the tissues of the body, and gets rid of toxins, both of which play a vital role in muscle – and general, health.

The various techniques used in massage as a whole, help break down adhesions, and this means where the muscles and other soft tissue, have stuck together.  By separating these fibres, this increases the flexibility of the muscle, and makes it fitter and healthier for the next time we train.

Foam rollers

Foam rollers help to release muscle tension in between massage treatments.  Whilst they are not a substitute for a good sports or deep tissue massage, they have very similar benefits, and are incredibly useful when used as part of any exercise programme. Here are some release exercises for the major muscle groups:

Do each set of exercises 3 times a week, spending around 15 minutes on the roller with each set.

Hamstrings (top part of legs at the back)

Sit with right leg straight out in front of you, and put the other foot flat on the floor, knee bent, for support.  Also use your hands behind you for support.  Roll from glutes to knee and back again, stopping when you find a sore point and holding the pressure on for a few seconds.

Switch legs, and do each exercise 3 times.

Calves (bottom part of legs at the back)

As above but rolling from knee to ankle and back up.

Quads (top part of legs at the front – often referred to as “thighs”)

Lie face down with quads on top of the foam roller and push up onto your wrists, ensuring they are under your shoulders (think “plank” using wrists).   Roll up and down between hips and knees. If you engage your core muscles it helps balance, and has the double bonus of adding in some core exercises whilst stretching!

It is worth remembering that there is more than one part to the muscles in the quads, hamstrings and calves, so rolling on the inside, middle and outside of the leg will ensure better quality of stretching.

I.T Band (side of upper leg)

Lay as if you were going to do a side plank.  Now put your top leg in front of you, knee bent, foot flat on the floor (for support).  Put the roller underneath the bottom leg and roll from hip to knee and back again, stopping when you find sore spots, and holding for a few seconds.  This is not an easy foam roller exercise as I.T bands are notoriously tight, and the stretching is performed by using your own body weight, so it can be painful.  To ease the pressure, lift the weight off the roller slightly and you’ll also be working your waist at the same time!!


Shoulder and back

Lie on your back with the roller placed horizontally just underneath your shoulder blades.  Bend the knees and put feet flat on the floor, hands behind your head as you would when doing sit ups. Engage the core muscles and lift your hips off the ground.  Roll from middle of back to upper back – NEVER onto the neck.

By Vida Cannon, Therapy & Life Centre

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