I don’t know about you, but some days I barely have enough time to get in and out of the gym, complete my workout and get to the next thing on my to do list. Running a business and growing my brand takes a lot of time and effort so the thought of spending 10 minutes to cool down often doesn’t make the schedule that day. I soon ran into a wall, my progress stalled, my muscles were always sore and my hamstrings were so tight it hurt to sit down. Two years ago, I made it my mission to add a rest day that was dedicated to stretching, foam rolling and yoga poses, it is easy to skip especially since I don’t get a rush from it like I do a workout but I have noticed my flexibility increase and my range of motion on point with most exercises now!
I thought this would be a great topic as I see a lot of you getting your workout on which is awesome but people often get injured because they don’t take that time to stretch post workout. If you tend to pop out of the gym, invest in a foam roller and use it before you go to bed at night, I promise in just a few minutes you will feel like you had a massage and not be as sore the next day.
What is a Foam Roller?
A foam roller is literally a piece of foam, there are different levels and intensities, some soft, some hard and even some with ridges. I have seen people use PVC pipes to foam roll but let’s be honest here, that would be quite painful! When used properly, a 10-15 minute foam rolling session can release tension and tightness between the muscles and the fascia which surrounds the muscle or groups of muscles. You know when you get a massage and you can feel things pulling apart, basically that is the fascia being released from the muscles. Our muscles become tight through repetitive actions or moving patters, whether you run or do an aerobics class, a foam roller should become part of your routine.
Foam rolling completely changed my life and if you have seen my snapchat (@cvebentleyfit) you know I love it so much that I have a travel sized one to bring with me after a long plane ride when my hips get tight. Ladies, for those of you sitting at a desk all day, foam rolling your IT bands or sides of your thighs is critical to release the tightness in your hips which in turn prevents lower back pain.
How Do I Use It?
First and foremost, you want to avoid foam rolling your spine, rib cage, and your boobs. Random, but you would be surprised at the things I have seen at the gym. Second, you want to find your trigger points. Follow along with these photos I have, when you find a point that feels a little tender but your body weight into it and hold for at least 30 seconds. If it hurts, roll through it and move to another point. Think of yourself like dough and the roller like a dough roller, roll through until you find that bump and hold it. Another thing I like to mention is your muscle isn’t a perfect straight line, tilt yourself around to get into the muscle don’t just roll back and forth, really get in there!
I use this roll to increase my flexibility for squats, after sitting writing a blog post or editing photos, and after leg day always. If you sit a lot this is one you should do at least twice a week. Start at your glute muscle and roll. Stop before you hit the back of your knee, remember to find that trigger point, apply your body weight and let it release.
Upper Back Roll:
My favorite roll and one I do often since I tend to hunch over. This one really opens you up, you might here a few cracks like you would during a massage, don’t worry that is just the muscles releasing the tension. As you see in the photos I start at my shoulder blades and roll it down to just above my rib cage. I tilt my hips down when I reach this point to apply more body weight, be cautious when doing this one and listen to your body.
This one is critical especially for tight hips. In this photo I am in the starting point of the roll, you want to start here and roll all the way down the side of your leg and stop right before you hit the knee. Remember, this one might be the worst out of all of them, so take it easy the first few times. Find that point and hold it as long as you can. This one gets easier and less tight as you practice!
I like to use my foam roller kind of like a yoga block. Here are two stretches I do while foam rolling to help my flexibility and just stretch me out before going to bed.
Arm, Chest Stretch:
For this one, I just stick the roller underneath my armpit and reach out as far as I can, be careful not to involve your neck, let your arm stretch gently and relax.
Neck Tension Stretch:
I saved this one for last because it is my favorite especially if I have been doing client calls all day and I forgot my headphones. I love sitting and just letting the roller take out all that tension in my neck. You don’t have to move, just sit there and breathe.
There you have it, your way of not getting injured post workout! I hope you take the time to stretch and really focus, it is so important! Do you do yoga, I used to go once a week but things have been hectic since expanding! I am going to try again, maybe I will bring my yoga teacher on here!
So I wanna know..
- Do you foam roll?
- Have you ever tried it?