Using a foam roller to warm-up your joints and muscles for upcoming exercise is a winning idea. Try these movements for prime flexibility.
One of the fitness mistakes people make most often is neglecting to warm-up their body sufficiently for an impending workout. A foam roller provides the perfect solution.
The idea behind a warm-up is to gradually raise your body temperature – so that your muscles are less cold and more pliable – and to lubricate your joints so that you can prevent injury as you put your physique under increasingly stressful loads.
For athletes in their 20s, warming up is still a good idea – though a ten-minute warm-up might be all that’s required to prepare a young body for a strenuous workout.
For athletes in their 30s and above, warming-up is a higher priority.
For people over the age of 50, it is imperative.
The ball-and-socket joints of the shoulders and hips are areas where injuries commonly occur from exercise, as well as the sensitive vertebrae of the lower back.
Injuries aside, the are certain key exercises – such as pressing and squatting – that can only be done effectively if there is already a certain level of mobility in the shoulders and hips.
From an ancestral perspective, muscles and joints are meant to be supple.
As modern humans become increasingly sedentary from texting, computing, and driving, the neck and hamstring muscles also require enhanced flexibility movements in order to unstick the tissues in these areas.
What is Synovial Fluid and Why Does It Matter?
Your body produces a substance called synovial fluid to lubricate its joints.
Just as car engines have motor oil, your body has synovial fluid so that your bones can move past one another effortlessly.
The more sedentary you are, however, the less your body thinks you need fluidity. If you don’t use it, you lose it – as the saying goes – and soon your joints become sticky, abrasive, and at risk for injury the next time you decide to move quickly, spontaneously, or under a weight-bearing load.
This is why, with each passing year, warming-up properly before exercise becomes even more important.
What is Spinal Compression and Why Does It Matter?
Our spines are meant to be long and bendy.
During pre-history our ancestors did not sit in chairs.
Modern life, on the other hand, involves sitting for absurdly long periods of time – and this can shorten spines.
A compressed spine means vertebrae are too close to one another, and this can put undue pressure on spinal nerve endings resulting in slipped discs, extreme pain, or – at the very least – unattractive posture.
Try This Foam Roller Warm-Up
This series of movements is designed to mitigate sticky synovial fluid and spinal compression – and to restore joint and muscular mobility.
Refer to the video above to see how each specific movement is executed.
This warm-up is for both men and women. Modify the movement to accommodate your unique fitness level and limitations.
As always, consult with your own medical doctor before beginning any new movement regimen.
Movement Series with Supported Spine:
- Robot Arms
- Around the World
- Crunch and Hold
- Bird Wings
Movement Series with Elevated Hips:
- Knee Circles
- Hip Flexor Stretch
- Foot Rolls
- Knee Hug
- Human Ball
- Lower Back Stretch
- Hamstring Hug
- Happy Baby
- Adductor (Cobbler’s) Stretch
Sitting on Foam Roller:
- Glute Roll
When rolling, the idea is to try to deeply relax the area you are targeting. You’re looking for the sweet spot – the specific place where the muscle feels tight or uncomfortable. Then, you roll the area while taking slow deep breaths with the intention of loosening the tight fibers at that particular place.