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posted: 1/21/2013 5:00 AM

Foam roller stretching can reduce muscle tension

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  • Stretching the thoracic region

    Stretching the thoracic region

  • Stretching the lats

    Stretching the lats


If you've resolved to become fitter and healthier this year, we hope you're off to a great start. If you continue to stick with it, the extra focus in the kitchen and the time spent in the gym will pay off. There is no question that a consistent approach will have you both seeing and feeling a difference.

For many people, the consistency needed to see results is sabotaged by nagging overuse injuries, sore muscles or achy joints. One simple way to be proactive and prevent these conditions from ever occurring is by consistently practicing self myofascial release with a foam roller.

Self myofascial release is an easy way to reduce muscle tension in muscle groups, enabling you to move more easily by promoting balanced tension around the joint. This method of resetting muscle tone can increase range of motion faster than simply stretching. This is a perfect way to prevent overuse injuries by relieving unnecessary workload on tendons, ligaments and joint surfaces.

Foam roller SMR should be included in both the first five to 10 minutes of every training session, as well as at its conclusion. Simply apply pressure to the muscle by positioning your body on the foam roller and roll from one end of the muscle to the other. Be sure to move slowly through each tender spot, allowing time for the area to fully release.

If you're new to foam rolling, we recommend the following routine:

Lower body

• Iliotibial band

• Quadriceps/hip flexors

• Calves

• Glutes/piriformis

Upper body

• Thoracic/lumbar spinal extensors

• Pec major/minor

• Lats

• Infraspinatus

Remember these tips when foam rolling:

• Select a foam roller with a firmness you are comfortable with -- soft for beginners.

• Cover the entire area of the muscle group you are releasing.

• Be prepared for some pain and discomfort, especially in the early stages. It's normal for many individuals to bruise after their first few sessions.

• Go slow over tender areas. You must allow ample time for the muscle to release built-up tension. When in doubt, go slower.

• Breathe deeply and evenly while rolling. This helps promote a state of relaxation.

Keep in mind that workouts and clean eating are a great start to achieving new fitness goals, but don't stop there. Working with your body on a daily basis to recover completely is the forgotten aspect of self-maintenance.

Seek the advice of professionals who can assess your posture, screen your functional movements and alleviate stressed muscles. Don't make the same mistakes so many others do this time of year. Stay in the game by giving your body the TLC it needs to continue working smoothly and injury-free. For more exercise and nutrition tips, check out our blog at or find us on Facebook.

Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at

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