EVER TRIED USING A ROLLER AFTER YOUR YOGA PRACTICE OR WORKOUT?
If you haven’t, you’re missing out.
Foam roller have a lot of benefits that you might be unaware of. Let’s take a closer look at these tubes and what they can do for your body and your yoga practice.
1. Rollers help us reduce muscle tension, improve flexibility and increase the range of motion.
This study showed that using a roller in combination with static stretching helped the test subjects increased their flexibility and range of motion. Additionally, it helped the participants reduce muscle tension.
What it means for you is that incorporating a few roller exercises and passive/static yin yoga stretches in your routine is a very good idea. Unless you like tight muscles and being inflexible. But knowing you, it would be unlikely – you like that stretchy feeling, don’t you? Then read on, it keeps getting better.
2. Rolling is good for your arteries.
Yes, you read it right. Self-myofascial release using a foam roller actually helps to reduce arterial stiffness. It also helps to restore the circulation of both muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue and improve their hydration and overall health.
The well-being of your arteries is of paramount importance for your overall health. After all, these are the biggest blood vessels supplying your entire body with oxygen and nutrients. Stiff arteries have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular conditions, and you don’t need them in your life, right? So let’s get rolling!
This study has shown that using the roller for muscles like adductors (the ones on the inner side of your thighs), hamstrings, quadriceps, trapezius and iliotibial band (IT band) helped to decrease arterial stiffness the the function of the vascular system.
3. Rolling speeds up post-exercise recovery (that would apply to those vinyasa flow you love as well).
I don’t know about you, but I’m actually already convinced to find my roller even just based on these 2 first benefits! But if you need more reasons to start rolling, I’ve got one more for you.
So, do you know that feeling when you’re trying to walk the day after a sweaty power vinyasa or an astanga class? I used to do astanga yoga daily, but these days when I do a full primary series, my body feels it in every cell the day after. It’s a better kind of sore than the one we get from playing couch potato, but if we could ease that muscle soreness, it would be pretty amazing.
Here’s where a roller comes in.
This study showed that using a foam roller works as an excellent post-exercise recovery tool, and it makes perfect sense.
Now let’s take a look at the tissue called fascia which makes all these benefits possible.
FASCIA – A HERO OF A TISSUE
This picture shows the structure of a muscle. Pay attention to the white bits that envelope the structures of the muscle layer-by-layer.
This is fascia, and it can be found both in the muscle and pretty much everywhere else in your body.
It surrounds and permeates every muscle, bone, nerve and organ.
It gives your body its form and shapes its structure. It’s also your biggest sensory organ -it was now proven that it can feel pain and in certain areas of your body it even has a higher pain receptor density than muscle!
It also has a huge impact on your capacity for movement and posture.
Based on some of the recent studies, we know know that when we feel sore in our muscles, the thing being sore is often our fascia.
To reduce soreness and to stay healthy, pain-free and properly hydrated, we need to train and release fascia on a regular basis. If you want to get to know this tissue properly and learn to take care of it like you mean it, check out the online programme called Tension Free I’ve created.
Now, time to move from theory to action!
Here are 3 ideas of what you can do with your roller to get started.
1. FOR YOUR LOWER BACK
Come to lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift your hips and slide the roller under.
Pull one knee towards your chest and try to relax the upper buttocks that you’re applying pressure to.
Roll up and down for a 1-2 minutes, then switch to the opposite leg.
When you’re done, take the roller out from underneath your body and let your lower back relax into the mat. If you’re a yogi (which I think you are..), finish this with a happy baby or “figure 4” stretches on your back.
2. FOR YOUR SIDE BODY (AND TO IMPROVE YOUR BACKBENDS)
The side body is that amazing body part that makes backbends healthier and more enjoyable as well as helps us breathe better. Yet for some reason, we often forget to give it the attention it deserves.
We’re about to change it though.
Come to lie on your right side and slide the roller under the side of your chest.
Support yourself by placing your right hand under your ear and left hand on the floor in front of you.
Move your torso up and down for a minute, then roll it forward and back for another minute. Switch to the other side and repeat.
3. FOR YOUR GLUTES
Working with your glutes ist’t only great for the glutes themselves. It also benefits your lower back if you ever feel tight or sore there. Definitely worth your time.
To perform this stretch, come to sit on your roller. Bring the left outer ankle to your right thigh into a figure 4 shape. Support yourself on your left hand or both hands, slightly lean to the left and roll out that left outer buttock for 2 minutes. Remember to breathe and try to relax while you’re doing this.
Switch to the other side and repeat.
Now that your body is a bit more at ease, you can take rest in a child’s pose or savasana, and get on with your day (or roll into bed! I love doing this before bedtime).
And if you got in the groove and would love to learn more about your fascia and myofascial release, check out this free myofascial release mini course I’ve created – I’d love to see you there.
To your happy, healthy and well-rolled out body!