Athletic preparation and recovery

Foam Roller: Exercises for Your Back and More

foam roller

What is the foam roller used for?

Originally designed as a tool for massage and gentle exercises in injury recovery, the foam roller has since been incorporated into fitness routines for its benefits in muscle toning and flexibility. Whether used for stretching or exercises aimed at flexibility, integrating the workout with foam roller exercises ensures benefits for both the body and mind.

Training with the foam roller

The Foam Roller is widely used in sports, bodyweight workouts, and Pilates classes.  Exercises and massages with the foam roller offer a range of benefits, including improved muscle and joint mobility, balance, and body awareness. It is often used in stretching to lengthen muscles, but there are movements to be done on this particular cylinder that are useful as massages. Self-massages with the foam roller are useful for releasing muscle tension in the back, neck, shoulders, and contractures, and for reactivating circulation correctly. By rolling slowly over certain areas of the body, the cylinder applies pressure, acting on the muscles and circulation.

Foam roller: exercises for the back 

For the post-workout phase, it is advisable to include some recovery exercises and back stretching with the foam roller. One of the simplest and most functional exercises to follow is a small massage to be done along the entire back:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and place the roller behind your back, from side to side.
  • Place your hands behind your head and start the slow movement of sliding along the entire back, from the lower to the upper part and vice versa.
You can include another exercise for the back in your workouts, also very simple to perform:
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and place the roller along the entire spine, from the neck to the pelvis.
Keep your hands along your hips and exhale as you raise your arms straight overhead, keeping them straight. Do not strain too much and reach your maximum. Return with your arms along your hips and repeat 6-10 times.

Foam roller: how to improve cellulite

The foam roller is not a magic cylinder, so it does not have the power to eliminate cellulite. However, by doing exercises on thighs and buttocks, through the pressure it exerts on the skin, it can improve circulation and, therefore, act on fluids and toxins. Together with consistent training, proper nutrition, massages, and a good dose of luck (genetically), areas affected by cellulite can improve.
  • Thigh exercise: sit on the floor and place the foam roller under one thigh. With the help of the body, move the thigh on the roller, massaging. Do the same thing on both thighs.
  • Glute exercise: sit with your buttocks on the foam roller and stretch one leg while keeping the other bent. In this way, the body weight will be on the buttock of the extended leg. With your arms supported behind you, slide the buttock back and forth on the roller, massaging. Repeat with the other buttock.

Foam roller: self-massage for contractures

Tensions, contractures, muscle pains: the foam roller helps in exerting targeted pressure on selected areas of the body, with the aim of softening these tensions and providing relief mainly at a physical level and, subsequently, at a mental level, just like a massage would. Depending on where you have muscle pains and contractions, you position the foam roller in the area and start a slow movement, in which the affected area moves forward and backward on the cylinder, massaging the area: buttocks, calves, hip flexors, dorsal muscles, are just a few examples of where you can perform a self-massage with the foam roller.

When not to use the foam roller

Usually, the foam roller does not have any particular contraindications. However, its use is not recommended in the presence of very strong muscle pain, if there are injuries, arthritis, acute inflammations, or fibromyalgia. In these cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor or specialist to follow the most suitable therapy to achieve physical well-being.   Resources: https://www.accademiaitalianafitness.it/article/339-il-foam-roller-nel-pilates-benefici-e-rischi-di-questo-attrezzo.html https://www.accademiamassaggi.it/come-usare-rullo-massaggio/  https://www.adidas.it/blog/861099-come-si-usa-il-foam-roller-10-esercizi-per-il-massimo-recupero

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