home gym: the foam roller
I am like a broken record when I mention how important it is to incorporate stretching in your fitness routine. But sometimes regular stretching just doesn’t cut it–you might have gnarly knots in your back, you’re sore in an unusual place, or you are in your second trimester of pregnancy and suddenly become much more limited in mobility.
Enter the foam roller, a genius invention that has improved the lives of athletes, specifically marathon runners, everywhere! It is a simple foam cylinder that can be used to roll out tight muscles. The foam roller attacks quads, hamstrings, IT bands, the entire back, and more. In my personal opinion, there is no better feeling than a roll from your lower back up to your upper back and neck–the roller magically releases all those tight little vertebrae!
Women’s Health magazine, my fitness bible, has a great article with directions on how to properly foam roll. Take note that it is best to foam roll after strenuous exercise sessions, not before.
Foam rollers can be found pretty much anywhere. I have seen them at Target, Costco, and Sports Authority, but you may also order them here from Amazon (they have hundreds of other brands as well). It may seem like a random addition to your home gym, but I promise you’ll be happy you bought it!
photo credit: Roger Mommaerts | Wikimedia Commons