Want to increase the intensity or length of your workouts, but being held back by tight, achy muscles? When a post-workout massage isn’t in the budget, there is an inexpensive, do-it-yourself solution.
A Hands-Free Massage
Foam rollers have become popular with everyone from office workers to athletes for kneading away muscle tension. In one study, participants who used a foam roller before activity reported less fatigue afterwards.
Based on self-myofascial release–where soft tissue and muscles are loosened up with applied pressure–foam rolling after exercise could also help you increase range of motion and reduce muscle soreness in a way that stretching might not, according to a 2014 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
“Foam rolling might act as a pain inhibitor,” explains study co-author David G. Behm, of the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Minimizing post-workout soreness means you’ll feel ready to get active again sooner.
How to Use a Foam Roller
Lie down on the roller and maneuver your body over it. As you zero in on tight, sore spots–common problem areas are the hips, back, buttocks and IT band (the outsides of the thighs)–you can control the pressure, massaging and loosening up soft tissue and muscle fascia.
May 2014 issue of Best Health magazine