Joel Harper, celebrity fitness trainer based in New York City. He is creator of the workout DVD series Fit Pack, the PBS programs Slim & Fit and Firming After 50 and of the workout chapters in The New York Times best-selling YOU book series and accompanying DVDs. He is author of Mind Your Body. JoelHarperFitness.com
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Foam rollers are great for easing muscle tightness and relieving soreness by releasing knots in fascia, which surround the muscles, and increasing blood flow to enhance recovery. Roll away muscle stiffness and pain in three common tight spots…
Roll back and forth from the top to the bottom of each target muscle 25 times. Do one set per muscle. Repeat all exercises on both sides of your body. Never roll over joints.
IT Band Roll—for the iliotibial band that runs along the outside of your thighs and helps keep your hips and knees stable. Lie on your right side with the roller under the middle of your thigh. Support your upper body with your right forearm on the ground and your left hand on the floor in front of your stomach. Keep your chin up and right elbow pressed back so that you stay on your side and avoid tilting forward with your upper body. Legs are together, ankles crossed. If this is too difficult, cross the top leg over the bottom one and anchor your left foot on the floor for balance. Use your hands and your core to shift your weight and help you roll along the full length of your quad.
Lat Roll—releases tension in the muscles on the upper sides of your back. Lie on your right side, legs together and bent at right angles. Place the roller just below your armpit, perpendicular to your body. Your right elbow is bent in the air, and your right hand is holding your head. Using your left hand as a prop, use your hips and legs to roll two inches up and down along the muscles wherever you feel it is most needed. You also can tilt your body forward and back to get a cross-muscle massage as well.
Calf Roll. Sit on the floor with legs straight, and place the roller under your calves (or under only your right calf with your left leg to the side if that is easier), just above the ankle. Lean your upper body back slightly, and place your hands flat on the floor for support, arms slightly bent. Use your hands and hips to help you roll up and down the length of your calves, tilting your legs slightly from side to side as you roll to find the area that needs it most. To add pressure, cross one leg over the other, bending the upper leg so that your foot is on the top of your calf…or for even more pressure, slide your foot down your calf to rest on your ankle. Switch legs and repeat.
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