How to Roll Out Sore Muscles

Fit blonde kneeling on floor using foam roller
Woman with a foam roller (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Sore muscles are usually the result of hard work. Whether you strength train, play sports or do yard work, your muscles get sore when you overwork them. Usually muscle soreness goes away on its own within a few days, but you can speed up the process and give yourself some relief with the use of a foam roller.

Sized to Fit

Foam rollers are cylinder-shaped pieces of dense foam that range in length from 1 to 4 feet and range in diameter from 4 to 6 inches. Some rollers are half a cylinder and are flat on one side for beginners. A dense, firm, full roller is best for rolling out sore muscles, but you can start with a softer roller if the pressure is too much. Select a full roller for ease of use when performing flexibility exercises.

Warm It Up

Foam rollers relieve tightness in the muscle fiber bands. Since foam roller use is similar to stretching, which also relieves tightness, warm up before you perform the roller exercises. Warm muscles stretch easier than cold muscles and your range of motion during the rolling exercises will be greater. Use the roller on a non-slip surface, such as carpeting, or place a sticky yoga mat between the roller and wood or tile floors.

Getting Into Position

The roller is an unstable surface. The way you get on and off the roller protects you from injury. When lying face up on a roller that is vertical to you, sit on one end of the roller with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lie back as you rest your spine along the roller until your head is in contact with the foam. To lie face up on a roller that is horizontal to you, sit in the middle of the roller with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Walk your feet away from you as you slide the foam up your back until it reaches your desired position. When getting off the roller, slowly roll to one side until you are on your hands and knees and off the foam.

Stretch It Out

Roll the roller over the belly of your sore muscles. Apply enough pressure that you feel the roller on the muscles, but not so much pressure that you experience pain. Avoid rolling over joints; keep the roller on the muscle tissue. Begin with the roller close to the body and then roll toward the extremities. For example, when stretching your hamstrings, sit with the roller underneath your thighs and nearest to your glutes. Then roll out toward the back of your knee to release a sore hamstring. Roll each sore muscle for 30 to 60 seconds and breathe normally as you stretch. You can use your foam roller on a daily basis to reduce your muscular discomfort.

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