7 Foam Rolling Moves for a DIY Massage

It's your homemade massage... for cheap!

November 18, 2016
foam roll massage
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Adapted from Dr. Jordan Metzl's Workout Prescription

Sixty minutes with a massage pro is a wonderful thing. And expensive! But you can give your muscles regular self-massage with some simple tools. A tennis ball is great for rolling the bottoms of your feet (and preventing plantar fasciitis), and it just plain feels good. A massage stick (aka muscle roller) is small enough to keep in a desk drawer and provides the perfect 5-minute break, especially if you spend much of the day sitting.

More: 3 Ways to Massage Away Muscle Soreness

For the best do-it-yourself results, however, nothing beats a foam roller. One of the best favors you can do for your body is some foam rolling every night in front of the TV (you can do it anytime, anywhere, of course, but in front of the TV is so-o-o convenient). Just run through the following basic rolling routine—after a couple of times, you'll have it memorized—and you'll be done before the first commercial break.

A few quick notes about foam rolling:

Just 30 to 60 seconds on a muscle should do the trick.

Roll the muscle, not bone (so stop, for example, before the roller hits your knee).

On some areas, you might feel discomfort as you roll. That's normal and, in a way, a really good sign. It's proof that the area is tight and needs the work. Regular rolling will reduce or eliminate the pain over time as your muscles loosen up.

Glutes foam roll
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Glutes foam roll

Sit on a foam roller, with it positioned under your right glute. Cross your right leg over the top of your left thigh. Put your hands on the floor for support. Roll your body forward and backward in small movements so the roller massages your lower glute to your upper glute. Repeat with the roller under your left glute.

More: 10 Secrets to the Perfect Bodyweight Squat

it band foam roll
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Iliotibal band (IT band) foam roll

Lie on your right side and place your right hip on a foam roller. Put your hands on the floor for support. Cross your left leg over your right, and place your left foot flat on the floor. Roll your body forward and backward in small movements until the roller reaches just above your knee. Repeat on the other side.

More: How to Injury-Proof Your Knees

Calves foam roll
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Calves foam roll

Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front of your body. Place a foam roller under your right calf with your right leg straight. Cross your left ankle over your right ankle. Put your hands flat on the floor for support, and raise your body off the floor while keeping your back naturally arched. Roll your body forward until the roller has crossed your entire calf region. Roll back and forth. Repeat with the roller under your left calf.

More: 5 Easy Exercises That Support Your High Heel Habit

Quads foam roll
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Quads foam roll

Lie facedown on the floor with a foam roller positioned above both of your knees. Using your hands and lower arms to stabilize yourself, slowly roll your body over the roller until it reaches the tops of your thighs. Roll back and forth.

More: 7 Kinds of Squats You Haven’t Tried

Hamstrings foam roll
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Hamstrings foam roll

Sit on a foam roller with it positioned just below your left glute, at the top of your left hamstring. Put your hands on the floor for support. Roll your body forward and backward along the length of your hamstring. Repeat with the roller under your right hamstring. (For a wide roller, you can do both hamstrings at once.)

Groin foam roll
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Groin foam roll

Lie facedown on the floor. Place a foam roller parallel to your body. Raise up on your elbows for support. Position your right thigh nearly perpendicular to your body, with the inner portion of your thigh just above the level of your knee, resting on top of the roller. Roll your body toward the right until the roller reaches your pelvis. Then roll back and forth. Repeat on your left thigh.

More: 5 Essential Stretches You Should Do Daily

Thoracic spine foam roll
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Thoracic spine foam roll

Lie faceup with a foam roller under your upper back, at the tops of your shoulder blades. Cross your arms over your chest or clasp them behind your head. Your knees should be bent, with your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so they're slightly elevated off the floor. Roll back and forth over your shoulder blades and your mid- back and upper back.

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