A lot of bodybuilders and gym goers who seriously lift weights underestimate the importance of recovery. I'm not saying you do, however, I would bet my favourite pair of D-Maks you probably don't spend as much time loosening those muscles as you do working them.

For a lot of us, that sore and stiff feeling the day after we train is a badge of honour. A sign we really went for it. Some don't believe they've caused enough micro-muscle damage to promote the kind of repair that builds muscle if they don't suffer the day after a session. And since stretching and recovery lessen this "sore" feeling, why even bother loosening up?

Ready for some harsh biology? If your connective tissue is tough and stiff around your muscle, it can constrict expansion which will work against growth. That's right, if you never stretch, you're slowing down your gains. For muscle hypertrophy to occur efficiently, this surrounding fascia needs to be pliable. How do you loosen up your connective tissue? Glad you asked. While stretching and massage are quite effective, a lot of us find stretching boring or don't make the time to get a proper sports massage.

Enter: foam rolling.

This is a more active way to loosen your muscles after a heavy lifting set. It will also replace your sadistic enjoyment of muscle soreness as it does take some grit to get through an entire roam rolling session! Do your body a favour and include these key foam rolling exercises to relax your fascia, creating optimal pliability for muscle growth.

 

Upper Back Roll

Girl demonstrating upper back roll

Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and place your hands behind your ears, crossed on your chest or wherever comfortable. Raise your hips off of the ground to increase pressure and then shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back. Alternate sides.

Calf Roll

Girl demonstrating calf roll

While seated on the ground, place a foam roller underneath your lower leg with the other leg either placed on the floor for support or on top of the leg you're gearing up to roll. Place hands at sides or just behind you, using your arms to lift your hips off the floor. Roll from below the knee to above the ankle. Repeat on opposite leg.

IT Band Roll

Girl demonstrating IT band roll

Lie on your side with the foam roller placed on your bottom leg, between your hip and knee. Keep your top leg crossed in front of you with your foot on the floor for support. Place as much of your weight as is tolerable onto your bottom leg. Don't be a hero, this one's a killer! Roll your leg over the foam from your hip to your knee. Repeat on opposite leg.

Hamstring Roll

Girl demonstrating hamstring roll

While seated, extend one leg over a foam roller so that it is positioned on the back of your hamstring. Place your hands beside or behind you and keep your opposite leg bent, foot on the floor as leverage for when you roll. Using your hands, lift hips off of the floor and relax your hamstring. Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee. Repeat on opposite leg.

Quad Roll

Girl demonstrating quad roll

Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roller underneath both legs, positioned between your hips and knees. Shift your weight onto one leg and roll from above the knee to below the hip. Repeat on opposite side.

Glute Roll

Girl demonstrating glute roll

Sit with your butt on top of a foam roller, knees bent, and then cross one leg so that the ankle is over your opposite knee. Shift your weight to the side of the crossed leg, rolling over your glutes on this side. Repeat on opposite side.

Chest Roll

Girl demonstrating chest roll

Place a foam roller on the floor and lay face down on top of it at shoulder height, extending one arm out. With the foam roller just below your armpit, press your chest into the foam and roll in small movements. Roll back and forth on your chest to release tension, then switch to your other arm and repeat.

Lats Roll

Girl demonstrating lats roll

While lying on your side, place a foam roller under your back, just behind your armpit. Keep the arm of the side you're rolling stretched out as you shift your weight onto your lats, using your legs to keep your upper body off of the ground. Roll to release lats. Repeat on opposite side.

 

Sing it with me now: "They see me rollin', they hatin'..."