The Perfect 15-Minute Foam Rolling Routine to Ease Sore Muscles and Improve Mobility

You shouldn’t have to fit into a diet and fitness plan. The plan should have to fit you. Click here for all the details on our January challenge.

Word to the wise: Resist the temptation to think of recovery and mobility workouts as "just" stretching or easy sessions you can skip.

Foam rolling may not feel as challenging or exciting as burpees, but mobility and recovery are just as important in a well-rounded fitness routine, says Holly Rilinger, personal trainer, Nike master trainer and creator of creator of The LIFTED Program. That's why she's devoted this entire workout to active rest and recuperation.

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"Having more mobility is going to help you to have a better workout," Rilinger says. If your hips are open and your ankles move properly, you'll be able to get into a deeper squat, for example. And if you're going hard in the other workouts in our 'Your Year, Your Way' Challenge, your muscles will need this recovery so you can work even harder the next week, she says.

For this workout, all you'll need is a foam roller — here are seven we recommend — and a few feet of space to get started.

Start With a Moment of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an important part of Rilinger's fitness strategy. The goal, she says, is to clear your thoughts and create space so that you can be truly engaged during exercise.

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Before you begin this workout — or any of Rilinger's routines for the 'Your Year, Your Way' Challenge — follow along with this 2-minute meditation to help you stay present and get the most out of every movement.

How to Do This 15-Minute Mobility Workout

In this session, you'll be doing each of the moves below for about 2 minutes (or 1 minute on each side), going slightly longer or shorter as needed. Be patient with yourself, Rilinger says: "We all have varying degrees of mobility."

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You may find it frustrating or painful at first as you figure out how to moderate the pressure on trigger points, but that's OK, she says. Continue to follow the program — you'll be doing the same workout all four weeks of the 'Your Year, Your Way' Challenge — and you'll get the hang of it.

  1. Foam Roll IT Band:​ Start with one leg on the roller and the opposite on the ground. If that feels comfortable, try lifting both legs, so that your only points of contact with the ground are your hands.
  2. Foam Roll Glutes:​ Finding your balance on the foam roller with one leg crossed over the other might feel like a workout in itself, Rilinger says.
  3. Kneeling T-Spine Opener:​ Start with your knees hip-width apart. You may find that working one side of your body is easier than the other, she says.
  4. Windshield With Reach:​ Try not to hold your breath as you drop your legs from side to side.
  5. Lunge With Reach:​ Take your time here so you can feel the stretch through your sides, Rilinger says. Lower your knee to the ground for balance as needed.
  6. Y-T-W:​ This move is great for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting, she says. Keep your spine in a neutral position as you form the letters Y, T and W with your arms.
  7. Standing Shoulder Opener:​ Think about making a snow angel to work your shoulders in all directions, Rilinger says.
  8. Inchworm:​ Try to keep your legs as straight as you can as you walk your arms out into a high plank, Rilinger says. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees.
  9. Lying Scorpion:​ Stop wherever your mobility allows if you can't bring your toe all the way to the ground, she says.
  10. Child's Pose:​ End with a few breaths in this relaxing position.

More Mobility and Recovery Workouts We Love

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