Use foam rollers for aching muscles and joints between massages
A deep tissue massage helps to relieve muscle soreness and joint stress, but it does come with a price tag. This is not to suggest you eliminate massages, but to share with you an inexpensive technique, using a foam roller that will release muscle tightness, to get you through until your next massage appointment. The foam roller not only stretches your muscles and tendons, but also breaks down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue that can limit everyday movement. The now popular foam rollers were originally associated with elite athletes and physical therapists, but have since graduated into gyms, Pilates studios, yoga classes and the home. You will be using your own body weight by lying on the roller and moving back and forth on selected areas you want to target; pressure may be controlled by putting more or less body weight on the rollers. Foam rollers are cylinder-shaped, high-density foam that come in varying lengths, shapes and firmness. The cost ranges from $12 to $40 and they may be found online or at most any sporting-goods store.
If you are 50 or older and have not been exercising, check with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Trainer Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Your move | Marga Menzies demonstrates this month's exercises.
Hamstring (back of thighs) and calves: Sitting, place roller under back of thighs. With hands on floor behind you, lift buttocks slightly off floor. Slowly roll back and forth from buttocks to back of knees. For calf muscles, place roller under calves. Lift hips slightly, using hands for support, and roll from below knee to ankle.
Quadriceps (front of thighs): Place roller under front of thighs, with lower arms resting on floor, head in alignment with spine, eyes facing downward. Contract abdominals to prevent the lower back from sagging. Using arms, roll back and forth from bottom of hip to top of knee.
Back and chest: This is an awesome stretch for posture. Lie on a long foam roller, shoulders and hips in alignment and spine straight, knees bent and feet on floor to prevent stressing lower back, head supported by foam roller. Place a pillow or small towel under your head if you need more support. Allowing arms to fall to the sides, palms up, will stretch the chest. Taking deep breaths, relax for several minutes. Be aware that lying on a foam roller should never be painful. A good alternative for stretching exercises would be half rollers, as one side of the roller has a solid base.
How to Use Foam Rollers
1. Always warm up muscles before beginning.
2. Place roller under soft tissue area you want to target to release tension.
3. Always roll on soft tissue. Avoid rolling over bones or joints.
4. To roll with less pressure when working the lower body, sit near end of roller and roll with one leg.
5. Gently, roll back and forth over targeted area five to 10 times.
6. When you find a noticeably tight area, hold that position a few seconds, until it begins to soften.
7. If an area is too painful for direct pressure, work the area around it.
8. Drink water when finished.
9. If you have any chronic pain or cardiovascular issues, check with your physician before beginning a foam roller workout.