You've heard about foam rolling, but has it become a regular part of your stretching routine? Here's why it should...

Once a rarely-used prop in fitness routines, the foam roller has rolled its way to popularity and now seems to be popping up in every gym, yoga studio, and retailer around the country.  Today, the Worksite Solutions team from ATI Physical Therapy is rolling in to tell you what you need to know about foam rolling.

What a foam roller is…

The foam roller is exactly what it sounds like – a small, round roll of foam! It’s used to improve tissue quality by helping to reduce any adhesions or scar tissue that may have formed in a muscle. In addition, it acts as a form of stretching to help relax the muscle.

Why you should use a foam roller…

- Improve mobility and range of motion

- Reduce scar tissues and adhesions

- Decrease tone of overactive muscles

- Improve quality of movement

- Help fill the gap between hands-on sessions of tissue work with a licensed therapist

What type of muscles you can target…

Although you can use the foam roller to help stretch a variety of different muscle groups, our wellness team focused on two of these muscle groups that can often benefit from foam roll stretching – the upper back and the hip rotators.

Upper back: Lay on the floor with your knees bent and the foam roller on your back. Roll your upper back region starting just below your shoulder blades to just below your neck, shifting your weight right to left as you roll.

Hip rotators: Begin on the floor, with the foam roller underneath you. Roll your hip rotators by sitting on one glute and crossing your leg as you vary the areas you address within the muscle.

How long to stretch…

As a general rule of thumb, spend about one to two minutes on each area. Depending on your tissue quality, you may want to spend more or less time on an area. For example, if you have poor tissue in your upper back, you may want to target those muscles by stretching for a longer period of time.

Now, get rolling!