Most athletes know that rest days are essential to
recuperate and perform at a high level. Your body needs rest to repair muscles
and synthesize proteins, otherwise you would always be in a state of breaking
down. However, rest days shouldn’t always involve sitting around doing nothing.
You should be helping your body recover for your next workout with massages or
stretching. This helps to increase blood flow, increase range of motion,
eliminate toxins, and decreases muscular tension by reducing trigger points and
scar tissue that builds up over time.
While frequent massages could be costly, a self-massage can
be performed in the privacy of your home for a one-time price with the help of
a foam roller. Foam rollers are cylinder-shaped styrofoam, which alleviate
muscular tension and improves flexibility for less than $20. The concept is
very simple: use your bodyweight to apply pressure to sore spots.
Here’s how it’s
1. Place the roller at the origin of the muscle you want to
loosen up, then gradually roll down.
2. When you reach a tender area, stay there for about one to
two minutes and breathe, allowing your body weight to sink into the roller.
3. Although uncomfortable at first, try to maintain pressure
on tender areas until the pain subsides by 50 percent.
4. Once the area feels better, continue rolling regularly to
keep the area relaxed.
5. Work your way down to other tender spots and repeat the
6. Continue rolling up and down over the whole muscle as
How It Works
Self-massage on a foam roller works through a
process called autogenic inhibition. Autogenic inhibition is a protective
mechanism, preventing muscles from exerting more force than the bones and
tendons can tolerate. At all muscle-tendon junctions there are
tension receptors called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO). When tension in a muscle
increases too much to the point of injury, the GTO relaxes the muscle. When you roll on the foam, you stimulate muscular tension and this mechanism
kicks in. This relaxes stiff muscles, diminishes trigger points, increases
circulation and increases range of motion.
Common Muscles to Work on the Foam Roller
Roll back and forth starting from the top of the buttocks to
the top of the hamstrings.
Roll back and forth starting from your buttocks down to the
Roll back and forth starting from the upper thigh down to
Roll back and forth starting from the back of the knee to
the Achilles tendon.
Roll back and forth starting from the under arm to your mid
Lying on the side of your leg, roll starting
from the top of your hip to the knee.