How we roll: 5 stretches to up your muscle game

Monday 26 June 2017
  • 5 stretched to increase muscle gains this winter

If wheatgrass shots aren’t your thing, and your chakras aren’t aligned enough to tackle a hot yoga class, warm up differently and get the benefits of stretching minus the mats with a foam roller!

It’s harder to prepare your muscles and joints for exercise in these cooler months, making it all the more important to ensure you have proper warm up and cool down routines in place to avoid injury.

But first, let’s talk about what happens when you lift heavy weights. As you bust out another rep of burly bicep curls, your muscles are contracting and relaxing with each movement. If they’re under a lot of pressure, like when you’re doing high repetitions of the same set, your bicep may not relax to the full extent before contracting again. If you don’t take the time at the end of your session to force your muscle to fully relax, over a number of years of the same pressure, you may not be able to fully relax your muscles at all – meaning you may forever hold your arms in curl formation!

Rolling guarantees you’re releasing tension, ensuring your muscles can fully relax while encouraging a full recovery ready for your next workout.

You don’t need a great chunk of time for it to be effective either – simply spend 10 minutes at the end of each workout targeting your main muscle groups. The main thing to remember is to focus on moving as slow as possible, holding each movement for 30 seconds, and spending up to two minutes on each muscle group. When you hit a point of pressure (trust us, YOU’LL KNOW), spend a little extra time working this area.

So get down (minus the dog) with our favourite foam rolling moves for active muscle recovery.

Thoracic Extension

Make a come-back and relieve pain with this roller.

  1. Sit with your feet flat on the ground, knees raised to the ceiling.
  2. Place the foam roller behind you, and slowly lay back onto it, ensuring you are laying in the centre of the roller.
  3. Place your hands behind your head, elbows outstretched, and back slightly arched.
  4. Balance your body weight and slowly push away from your feet, rolling your back along the roller. Once the roller reaches your lower back, slowly pull your body towards your feet. Repeat.

Calf

Don’t be staggerin’ post-workout like a baby giraffe – relieve stiffness in your calf muscles with this easy roll.

  1. Sit with legs together, outstretched in front of you. Cross your left ankle across your right.
  2. Place the foam roller under your right calf muscle, and extend your arms behind you, with palms flat on the ground and fingers facing your feet. Lift your body to hover above the ground.
  3. Slowly push your body away from your hands, moving your calf along the foam roller. Apply pressure by pushing your heel towards the ground. Once the roller reaches your knee, pull your body back towards your hands. Repeat.

Glutes

Knock out knots like a high roller with this balancing act.

  1. Sit with your feet flat on the ground, knees raised to the ceiling.
  2. Place your left ankle on your right knee, so your left leg forms a right angle.
  3. Place the foam roller behind you, and using your hands to balance, lift yourself onto the foam roller.
  4. Using a very small range of motion, massage this area by moving back and forth slightly. Repeat.

Iliotibial Band (ITB)

Suffer through this killer roll to loosen tension in your ITB, and allow greater range of motion next time you squat.

  1. Lay on the ground on your right side, with your legs outstretched in a straight line.
  2. Place the foam roller under your right knee, and lift your body in line by resting on your elbow.
  3. Using your hands to steady yourself, push your body along the roller until it reaches your hip. Roll the roller back to your knees, and repeat.
  4. Repeat on your left side.

Inner thigh

Get comfy with this move, to loosen knots along your inner thigh.

  1. Lay face down on the ground, with legs outstretched.
  2. Place the foam roller under your right quad, balancing your upper body with both hands.
  3. Using a small backwards and forwards movement, massage the area.
  4. Repeat on your left side.

Lats

Back day? Rock and roll it out with this lat loosener.

  1. Lay on your right side, with legs bent and knees towards the ceiling.
  2. Place the foam roller under your right side (torso), and extend your left arm to hover in line.
  3. Push your body away from your feet, until the roller reaches your waist, then pull your body back towards your legs until the roller is under your armpit. Repeat.
  4. Repeat on your left side.

Hot tips:

  • Try stretching daily.
  • Have purpose with your stretch routine. Focus on muscle groups that are tight or overactive.
  • Muscle groups should be stretched or lengthened for 30-90 seconds
  • Holds or movements shouldn’t inflict pain. They are exercises performed to promote relaxation.

Create muscle balance, and find a happy medium between length and strength!

Ashley Hanger

Ashley is UQ Sport’s Content Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Partial to food of the deep fried variety, Ashley is a self-confessed social media addict with a knack for words. You’ll often find her with a cup of tea in hand, still in shock she made it through a HIIT class alive.