Foam rolling provides a form of self-manual therapy which can be used as an effective alternative to expensive sports massages. Try it after training on warm muscles, to reduce muscle soreness and promote quicker recovery. Furthermore, evidence suggests that if performed regularly, foam rolling can help increase long term muscle flexibility.
The following exercises using the foam roller are particularly beneficial to runners and cyclists but also feel great after a gym session or class.
For each exercise, slowly roll back and forth as described for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping the roller under the muscles at all times (avoid rolling onto your joints). As you roll, take deep, slow breaths to help your muscles relax. If you hit a particularly tight or tender spot stop rolling and apply direct pressure for 30 seconds, or until the pain reduces. Always foam roll on warm muscles and keep your core engaged to support the rolling.
Iliotibital (IT) Band