Dr. Ben Kim
you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of foam rolling.
you get the hang of it, foam rolling can be like getting deep tissue
work from a skilled health practitioner, only you can experience it
at anytime, and you can linger for as long as you want on areas that
need extra attention.
an avid tennis player, I can attest to the recuperative powers of
ten to fifteen minutes of rolling after heavy workouts makes a huge
difference in how I feel the day after.
heavy emphasis on rolling my lower extremities and trunk because these
are the areas that take the greatest beating over the course of a
say that this holds true for just about all of us, as weight-bearing
regions area steadily at work during our waking hours.
your lumbar (lower back) spinal region, begin by sitting with your
knees bent and position your foam roller just behind your pelvis.
back slightly and place your hands on the floor behind you, a good
foot or so behind the foam roller.
is to support your body weight in a balanced way so that you can transition
your lumbar spinal region onto the foam roller.
you feel like you are balanced, lean back until your lower back region
is resting on the foam roller.
evenly distribute your body weight between your feet, your lumbar
spinal region, and your arms.
roll your lower back along the foam roller in this position and experience
mild pressure work and stretching of your lumbar spinal joints. But
for far more effective stretching and deep tissue work, fold your
arms cross your chest and support your body weight with just your
back and feet. Roll back and forth and feel free to slightly rotate
your trunk from side to side to target the bigger muscle groups that
lie on both sides of your spinal column.
baby steps and using your feet to control how fast you move, roll
downward on the foam roller to target your thoracic spinal region
(mid back). Again, feel free to rotate a bit from side to side to
apply therapeutic pressure to your paraspinal muscles - these muscles
that line both sides of your thoracic spine are constantly at work
to maintain upright posture, so you can expect to find some bundles
of taut and tender muscle fibers. Linger on these areas, and maintain
steady breathing as the pressure from the roller relieves tension.
point in your rolling session, try rotating to one side and supporting
yourself on the elbow of the arm of that side. The roller should now
be directly under the muscles and/or ribcage that line that side of
your spine. Roll up and down in this position to more fully target
your paraspinal muscles, and to provide therapeutic stretching of
the ligaments that support your ribcage.
"pulls" that occur in the lower or mid back regions that are often
diagnosed as muscular strains can actually be sprains of the ligaments
that support your ribcage; these ligaments receive little blood supply,
and when you are fatigued, they can get sprained or even torn during
physical labor. Rolling this area should help promote needed blood
flow to this area, as well as some therapeutic stretching of these
ligaments, which should decrease risk of injury.
to switch and do the other side of your spine.
you're finished rolling your lower back, mid back, and both sides
of your ribcage, go back to having the roller right under your spinal
column and allow your pelvis and head to "hang off" of either end
of the roller. The idea is to allow the roller to push your spine
forward while your body is relaxed, enabling a therapeutic stretch
of the many ligaments that line your vertebral column. You may need
to try a few different "fulcrum" points to discover the point(s) that
provide the best overall stretch for your spinal column.
actually rest in this position for a few minutes at a time, or for
however long as is comfortable. For longer hold times, try using a
pillow to support your head and neck.
don't have a roller, the one that I continue to recommend can be found
Fit 18-Inch Premium EVA Foam Roller
consider the 36" version instead of the 18" version, especially for
this exercise, though I believe Amazon ships the 36" version only
within the States.
articles on how to use a foam roller to keep your body healthy, feel
free to view any of the following:
to Improve Blood Circulation in Your Legs
to Foam Roll Your IT Band
to Keep Your Hip Flexors Healthy
to Foam Roll Your Hip Abductors
to Stretch and Massage Your Inner Hip Muscles
to Prevent and Treat Achilles Tendonitis
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