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Keeping the body’s soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) loose is essential for maintaining flexibility and range of motion, which is especially important as we age. Foam rolling is a great way to help the body stay loose, reduce muscle stiffness and soreness, and avoid future injury. Do these four exercises after you wake up in the morning, and you’ll notice a significant difference in the way you move throughout the day.
What you’ll need: A soft, carpeted area (or yoga mat) and a foam roller. You can kick it up a notch with specialized rollers, like the VYPER by HYPERICE, which combines the benefits of massage pressure and high-frequency vibration to increase the body’s overall performance, flexibility and circulation.
Lie facing up with your feet planted on the ground. Place the foam roller between the ground and your lower back, resting back on your elbows. Tightening your abs and pressing into your feet, lift your hips and roll along your lower back. Notice a spot that feels particularly tender? Hold and press against the roller for added pressure.
Tip: For added intensity, lift your knees in the air.
Sit upright on the floor with your legs out in front of you so your body makes an “L” shape. Slide the foam roller underneath your legs so it rests right below your calves near your ankles. Place your hands flat on the ground on either side of you, lifting your weight off the ground. Slowly push yourself forward, rolling up your calves and back down again.
Tip: For added intensity, cross your feet and focus on each leg individually.
Lie on the floor facedown and place the foam roller between the ground and the area right above your knees. Plant your hands in a push-up position, lifting yourself up so only your hands touch the ground. Use your upper body strength to move your body back and forth, rolling across your quads.
Tip: For added intensity, cross one foot behind the opposite knee so your legs make the number “4” and focus on one leg at a time.
Turn so you’re lying on your left side and push your upper body up with your left hand so you’re resting on your elbow. Bend your right knee and plant your foot on the ground in front of your left knee. Lift up off your hip and place the foam roller at the top of your I.T. Band, just below your hip. Push your body forward and backward, slowly rolling along your I.T. Band. Repeat on the right side.
Tip: For added intensity, press firmly against the roller, inching along any tight spots.
Robbie Davis (ATC, CSCS, PES) began his 20-year career as a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach with the Los Angeles Clippers in 1995 as a member of the team’s athletic training staff. After eight seasons with the team, Davis left the NBA in 2003 to pursue his own business, Gameshape, Inc. where he lends his expertise to some of the biggest names in sports. Davis is a graduate of USC with a BS in Physiology.