In her own words, USA Volleyball's Beach National Team athlete Emily Day gives you tips for useful foam rolling exercises.
Rolling out your muscles is an important component to keeping your body healthy. I often roll before I lift, after a long practice and anytime a muscle feels tight. Here are some major areas that you should check in with on the foam roller:
It is important to roll out your glutes post workout and even pre-workout if you are feeling tight. As volleyball players, we are doing lots of jumping and lateral movements where our glutes are involved. As you roll over your glutes, spend any extra time on areas where there is soreness. Sometimes it helps to move right to left along the foam roller to get those tight spots.
I always roll out my hamstrings before I train because it is one of the easiest things to pull. We want to make sure we don't have the backside of our legs tight when we go to sprint after a dig. As you roll, you should feel the backs of your legs opening up.
Calves are important to give us that extra spring in our jump. Therefore, it is important to roll out your calves before and after training. When you roll out your calves and come across a tender spot, spend some extra time slowly rolling over it. If you don't feel anything when rolling out your calf, try crossing your ankles so you apply more pressure on the one calf.
IT Band Complex
I don't know about you, but my IT band is always tight! I find rolling these pre- and especially post-training is important. If my IT band is tight, my knees start to bug me. Your body is all connected so if one muscle is tight, it often causes pain in another spot. Don't actually roll on your IT band, it hurts badly and doesn't actually loosen at all. Instead, roll out the muscles surrounding it. Lie with the foam roller slightly in front of the IT band (roughly a 45 degree angle away) and roll. When done with that side, move so the foam roller is slightly behind your IT band, again about a 45 degree angle.
- When rolling your IT band, use your arm and opposite leg to support how much pressure you need.
- Don't forget to go all the way from your knee to your glute!
What it is: Your IT band runs from your knee to your hip on the outside of your leg and becomes tight from the muscles that surround that area of your leg. When you roll out those muscles surrounding your IT band, you loosen the adhesions of the muscles in the area which improves your movement and function of your leg.
After a tough lift or an intense practice, are your legs are sore? The quads are the perfect way to release some of that soreness and get you ready for your next training. Make sure you roll the inner, middle, and outer quad. If you come across a knot, use the foam roller to press into that spot, take your time and breathe through it. It can be painful so use your arms to help support how much body weight you want on that knot.
This is one of my favorite foam rolling exercises. I do it before every training to make sure my upper back is moving and loose. When doing the backbend over the roller, make sure your abs are engaged and your hips do not lift off the ground. Go slowly as you backbend over. When you are rolling out your back, keep your pelvis stable and spend extra time on those spots that feel knotty and chunky. Sometimes the foam roller will not be able to get everything, which is why we use a tennis ball in further exercises.
This stretch is to be done pre- and post-training to relax and open your chest. In volleyball, beach and indoor, you are often hunched over and your shoulders roll in. Same with sitting at a desk or looking at your phone frequently. This exercise will help naturally pull your shoulders back, you should feel your chest and shoulders relax while you do this exercise.
We don't actually roll on this one. Lay on your back with your spine on the roller and with your arms in 90 degree angles, allow your elbows and forearms to fall to the floor. You should feel your pecs stretch. This can often be intense for some people because of limited mobility, so move slow into it and don't be afraid to stay in the position for a longer amount of time. Your elbows may not reach the ground when you first start doing this exercise. It is important to keep our shoulders loose with all the hitting and overhead moves we do.
Pec With A Ball
A tennis ball is a perfect tool to put deeper pressure in specific areas. I lean into the tennis ball against the wall to roll over my pec and front of my shoulder. I enjoy this one because it allows me to control the intensity by how far I am leaning into it. Make sure you do both arms! We always want to keep ourselves balanced.
What it is: The rhomboid are muscles that help with moving your shoulders. When these areas are tight, it could affect shoulder mobility.
This is a great exercise especially when your shoulder is bugging you. Place the ball along the shoulder blade, between your shoulder blade and spine but not on either of those bones, and roll up and down along the shoulder blade. You can also experiment with moving your arm above your head and across your body to get those pesky knots. After rolling out you want the ball to roll smoothly between your body and the wall.
I hope these foam rolling exercises and stretches get your body feeling great. See you at the beach!