Staying active and keeping your body mobile is an important component for having a high quality of life. Incorporating foam rolling into your weekly exercise routine can be a cost-effective and simple way to keep your body mobile. Try foam rolling these 5 key areas to help improve or maintain your general mobility.
Foam Rolling the Calves
Foam Rolling the calves can bring awareness to areas of myofascial tension within the calves that might not have been noticed with traditional stretching techniques. Often times, the tension is within the outside or inside bulk of the calf. If you spend time foam rolling right in the middle, you will miss what tissue needs addressed. By foam rolling the calves you can improve your ankle range of motion which is important for exercises such as jogging, sprinting, and squats.
Foam Rolling the Adductors
The adductors are a group of muscles that comprise the inner thigh. They attach to the pelvis along the pubic bone, accounting for 2/3rds of the muscle mass in some areas of the thigh. When foam rolling this muscle group, play around with the amount of hip flexion and knee flexion; these two variables will change the perception of tension. I recommend foam rolling this muscle group by starting with a bent knee and then changing the amount of hip flexion as noted in the video. Once you have foam rolled with a bent knee, through the entire range of motion of the hip, straighten the knee and do the same.
Foam Rolling the Hip Flexors
Foam rolling the hip flexors can help improve upright posture. When the hip flexors and anterior hip capsule become tight, they collectively limit the amount hip extension. If hip extension cannot occur, the body compensates by overarching in the low back. Either one of these alone can produce pain in the low back, but if both hold excess tone, overarching in the low back becomes the "normal" resting state of the low back, and the prevalence of back pain increases.
Foam Rolling the T-spine
Having proper position and motion through the thoracic spine (aka t-spine or mid back) is an important factor for full body health. If the t-spine becomes too kyphotic, or rounded forward, it creates a strong imbalance of the arms mobility due to the inability of the shoulder blades to get an ideal position, especially with any overhead activities. Foam Rolling the t-spine is quite simple: Rest your back on the foam roller and support your head with your hands. The position of the spine is relative, but if possible, keep your spine straight, and roll from the base of your neck to the top of your low back.
Foam Rolling the Chest
Tight chest muscles are a constant issue for modern society seen with rounding of the shoulders and the head positioned forward. Tightness in this muscle group often times produces pain in areas other than the chest and as a result, this area goes highly ignored. It is easier to get into this area with a lacrosse ball than with an actual foam roller. Set the lacrosse ball underneath the collar bone and roll the entire length of the collar bone, including the sternal muscle fibers running vertically on the chest.
Foam Rolling for General Mobility
By foam rolling these 5 areas, you can help prevent many common myofascial aggravating factors; stating this, foam rolling is not the end-all-be-all. These tips are meant to help guide you when attempting to take autonomy of your musculoskeletal health.