Many of you will be frequently participating in different activities of different intensities. Whether you are a gym junkie, a road runner or a KX advocate, your muscles will build up some tension. Have you ever come into a class feeling pretty tight hoping us trainers will go easy on you but still wanting to get the most out of your workout? (We don’t know how to take things easy…sorry!)
The perfect and most simple way to stretch and soften out any niggles…Foam Rollers!
What are foam rollers and how do they work?
You will have likely seen this long cylinder tool in most KX studios but may not have known what they are or how to use them. Similar to a sports massage, foam rollers are important for the recovery of muscles. They help to relieve tension and muscular pain that can limit our range of motion, reducing the likelihood of injury and helping us to stay flexible. They are available in different sizes and thicknesses from relatively soft foam, to high-density rollers. The more athletic and muscular you are, the denser the roller should be.
Foam rollers work by applying pressure using your own bodyweight on any sore spots; it’s a kind of self-acupressure technique – or simply a self-massage! Manipulating the soft tissue will support and massage muscle groups whilst improving balance, stabilisation, flexibility and core strength. Athletes often have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with foam rollers! The feeling can be on the border of painful or uncomfortable, similar to stretching. It is however, important to distinguish between a moderate level of discomfort and a pain that can lead to injury – good vs. bad pain!
When should you use a foam roller?
It is a valuable part of any workout and I recommend incorporating it into a warm up. Rolling out regularly can help increase blood flow, and relieve muscle tightness to encourage better training. Likewise, using a foam roller in a cool-down can flush out toxins and help soften muscles for faster recovery.
Basic Example Exercises
1. Hamstrings – sit on the roller with your legs outstretched, and support yourself by placing your hands on the floor behind you. Position yourself so the roller is directly under your hamstrings. Slowly roll forwards and back from the base of your glutes to the bend in your knee. You can increase the pressure by stacking on leg on top of the other.
2. ITB- Lie on your side and place the roller under your outer thigh. Roll back and forth from the bottom of your hip to just above your knee. To increase the pressure, take your bracing leg off the floor and stack it on top of the leg you’re massaging.
3. Quads – To keep your knees healthy and loose, lie on your stomach with the roller placed under your thighs. Holding the body straight, roll yourself back and forth from hip to mid-thigh. Bend the knees to increase the pressure.
Have a look on our KX Pilates Instagram for some of our trainers demonstrating some of the above examples @kxpilates. Next time you come to a class, get in 10 minutes early – stretch, roll and get your body ready for an intense session that will kick your butt!