It is not uncommon to experience muscle cramps after a workout since the muscles, tendons, and joints are exposed to more strain than they are used to. However, there is no need to worry as a simple device can help to relive the pain in just 10 minutes, which is known as a muscle roller. The roller is made of hard-celled plastic and is cylindrical in shape. The mechanism is quite simple because all you need to do is place the roller between the floor and the body’s soft tissue, before starting the rolling motion. You can use your own body weight to position it, and focus on a particular area till the relief sets in.
Rules to remember
Before you start exercising with a roller, you have to keep these points in mind so as to ensure you get the maximum benefits from it:
• Rolling too quickly isn’t advised since it has negative effects – the movements have to be focused and steady.
• Try to combine up-and-down, side-to-side and other directional movements so that you get to work on the muscles from all angles.
• Keep your tissues hydrated and more flexible by drinking plenty of water before rolling.
• Muscle rollers are primarily designed for providing pain relief quickly, but if you use it on a daily basis it assists in injury prevention and muscle maintenance as well.
• Your blood circulation improves immensely. The roller allows smooth flowing of blood through the skin, fascia, muscles, and also the tendons and ligaments. Due to better circulation, your body gets more nutrients and flushes out toxins and wastes at a cellular level. Inter-cellular communication and cellular function is greatly improved.
• It elongates the short muscles, tendons and ligaments. Muscles such as hip flexors and ligaments resist stretching to an extent as they are prone to shortening. Applying therapeutic pressure on these muscles with the aid of trigger point therapy methods and standard massages is extremely difficult. A muscle roller can put the necessary pressure on these areas and expand shortened tissues. Deep pressure massages help to improve physical imbalances that often lead to injuries. Basically, the fascia accumulation in the muscles is being loosened, which prevents these zones from triggering injuries.
• Optimal spinal range of motion is encouraged thanks to the roller. All you have to do is slowly roll the spine against the roller, and stop when you feel restrictions. This helps the joints and tissues surrounding the area to stretch properly.
• A flexible body is one of the most important factors when it comes to fitness. When you establish a routine using muscle rollers, the flexibility of muscles increases. For instance, lengthening of hip flexors can prevent tautness after sitting and relieve lower back pain as well.
• Last but not the least, rollers help to release tension that builds up in the connective tissues, thus helping you de-stress. Sitting at a desk for a long time at work can cause tightness in some areas, so use the roller to massage them away.
Top exercises for pain relief
Target these areas to experience quick relief from muscle pains:
• Lats – Position the body on the right side while keeping the right leg flat, the left foot flat on the floor, and the knee bent at 90 degrees. Make sure the center of the roller is placed under the right arm pit at a perpendicular angle to your body. Stretch your right arm straight (as far as you can) while resting the left hand on the roller. Maintain this position, roll from the armpit about four inches down towards the waist, and work your way up. Continue for 30 to 60 seconds, and then transition to the opposite side.
• Calves – Stretch your legs in the front, place the foam roller perpendicular to the body, and rest the lower right calf on its center. Put your hands on the floor, use your triceps to life your butt of the floor, and place the left foot on top of the right calf. Start from the lower right calf and move up to the flesh portion. Go back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds, and then switch to the other leg.
• Shoulders and Pecs – Position your body face down and keep the left forearm on the floor. One end of the foam roller should be under the right shoulder, while extending the arm straight as far as you can, to the height of the shoulder. You need to form a “T” shape with the roller. Roll from the shoulders to the right pec and go up. Repeat for a time period of 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.
These exercises need not be done for pain relief only – they can be performed for overall health and fitness too. Make sure you consult your personal trainer for more tips on muscle roller exercises.