Release tight hips, hamstrings and back muscles with these 8 foam roller exercises. This guided, 10-Minute Recovery Day Foam Roller Stretching Routine will release sore muscles, increase range of motion and flexibility, and reduce risk of injury.
If you do my at home-workouts, you are training like an athlete. That means you need to be recovering like an athlete too.
Whether you’re new to fitness, or you’ve been a dedicated fitness enthusiast for quite some time, foam rolling to relieve muscle tension should be a staple in your fitness routine.
Recovery days are built into all of our free home workout plans. And I highly suggest trying these recovery day foam rolling exercises after your next workout to reduce soreness.
According to research published in The Journal of Athletic Training, foam rolling after a workout significantly decreases soreness up to 72 hours after a workout.
I’ve started doing these 8 foam roller stretches every morning, and it’s increased my range of motion, decreased soreness, and aided in muscle recovery!
Foam rolling, or using a hard foam tube to roll out your muscles, is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR). In other words, it’s a self-massage technique commonly used by physical therapists and personal trainers. This form of stretching releases tension, sore muscles and knotted muscles in ways that traditional (or passive) stretching cannot. Foam rolling or SMR uses pressure to increase blood flow to tight muscle groups and relieve pain.
Foam rollers have many benefits such as: it improves range of motion, decreases post-exercise soreness, alleviates tightness or trigger points, increases blood flow and flexibility, aids in injury prevention, aids in muscle recovery (reduces inflammation that occurs during the muscle repair process), and increases flexibility without hampering muscle strength (Journal of Sports Rehabilitation). Foam rolling is for everyone, whether you maintain a rigorous fitness routine or sit at a desk all day.
Both are great options that serve different purposes. If you’re foam rolling before a workout, hold each foam roller exercise for around 30 seconds. This will increase blood flow to that muscle group (which is ideal for warming up for a workout). If you’re foam rolling after a workout, hold each foam roller exercise for around 60-90 seconds (or longer if you’d like). This will send a signal to your Golgi Tendon Organs which forces your muscles to go into a deep relaxing state. I also highly suggest foam rolling on recovery days (when you have no workout scheduled) to decrease muscle soreness and increase mobility.
Ready to roll?! Try these eight foam roller exercises — it only takes about 10 to 12 minutes to complete this foam rolling routine.
Use these foam roller exercises in your warm up to increase blood flow, range of motion, flexibility and reduce the risk of injury during your workout.
Or use this foam rolling routine in your cool down to release tension, relieve tight muscles and speed up muscle recovery.
A foam roller.
If you’re more advanced in SMR, you can use a trigger point foam roller or lacrosse massage ball.
Follow along with the guided Foam Roller Stretches on YouTube, led by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren.
Your Workout Looks Like This:
Targets: Upper body (specifically the chest muscles).
If you spend your day hunched over a computer (or baby), this chest opening stretch is going to feel amazing. I have a shorter foam roller, so I also use a yoga block to support my head and neck.
Targets: Upper back and shoulders.
A lot of people tend to carry their stress here, so this is a great way to work out muscle knots, kinks or tightness.
Targets: Hips and hip flexors.
This is personally where I spend the most time — I’ll spend a few breaths and slowly roll back and forth to open the hips.
Targets: Mainly the quads (which are involved in almost every workout we film. In fact, many people tend to be quad-dominant).
There are four quadriceps muscles and they all attach to the knee cap. Foam rolling the quads can improve the flexibility of the knee (and decrease knee pain) and improve hip mobility. Option to roll both quads at the same time, or roll one at a time (I prefer one at a time to really isolate the muscles).
Targets: The glutes (the largest muscle in the body) and the piriformis (a deep, small muscle located between your glutes and hip joints).
If you want better squats (improved hip mobility and range of motion), foam roll your glutes. After a heavy leg day, do this glute and piriformis roll to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery.
Targets: The hamstrings — this stretch is great for anyone who spends their day sitting down as it lengthens and releases tense muscle along the back of our legs. This improves hip mobility and decreases stress on the low back.
If deadlifts are part of your leg workout, decrease post-exercise soreness with this hamstring stretch.
Targets: The calf muscle.
If you’re a runner or do workouts with jumping, this calf stretch will feel so good and increase ankle mobility.
Targets: The hips and all the muscles along the back of the body (posterior chain). Plus, you get amazing extension creating length from your tailbone to your fingertips (or thoracic spine).
This is my personal favorite foam roller stretch on the list and how I like to start and end every day.
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I was so excited when I saw you publish this and just got to try it! These are definitely some moves to consider adding into the routine I’ve been doing. I really like your full-body stretch routine, but this is a calmer, slower way to get into the muscles and good for changing things up. Thanks for sharing!
Sarah! So glad you’re putting these foam roller exercises to good use! Keep up the great work and stay tuned for another mobility routine coming soon! -Lindsey
Love your workouts! Friendly correction: its not “pirifemoris” its “piriformis”, pronounced “peer-uh-form-is”.
So glad you’re loving the workouts Rachel! And yes, if you read this post you’ll noted I have it written as piriformis! Thanks, -Lindsey