Self-myofascial release is NOT what it might sound like ;) It is, however, a fancy term for self-massage that releases muscle tightness and/or trigger points and is commonly referred to as foam rolling, or the “poor man’s massage.”
In full transparency, we should warn you, foam rolling hurts like a MUTHA! But it is also one of the best techniques for both warmup and recovery of your muscles. Foam rolling improves circulation and breaks down knots which will lead to increased range of motion. This means your muscles will be better prepped for your workout, reducing risk of injury, and will enjoy a speedier recovery post-workout. Less chance of injury + quicker recovery time = better results!
Get your hands on a foam roller and try out these 5 foam roller stretches!
While seated, place a foam roller underneath your lower leg with the other leg placed on the floor supporting some of your weight. Place hands at sides or just behind you, and press down to raise your hips off of the floor, placing your weight against your calf muscle. Roll and repeat on opposite leg. With the pressure that is being applied you will isolate the trigger point, creating a deep myofascial release.
Lie on your side with bottom leg placed onto a foam roller between the hip and the knee and top leg crossed in front of you. Place as much of your weight as is tolerable onto your bottom leg. Roll your leg over the foam from your hip to your knee. Repeat on opposite leg. Stretching the iliotibial band is something that people rarely think of, but to prevent these issues it is important to incorporate a stretching routine into your training program.
While seated, extend your legs over a foam roller so that it is positioning on the back of the upper legs. Place your hands to the side or behind you to help support your weight. Using your hands, lift hips off of the floor and shift your weight on the foam roll to one leg. Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee. The pressure of the roller improves your circulation by stimulating blood flow to your soft tissues. This means that more oxygen is delivered to the rolled out area, which has a healing effect on tender muscles.
Sit with your butt on top of a foam roller. Bend your knees, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over the knee. Shift your weight to the side of the crossed leg, rolling over your glutes until you feel tension. Repeat on opposite side. The glutes foam roll increases flexibility and mobility in the hips and glutes. The exercise also acts as a warm-up and can improve recovery from exercise.