If you work at a desk, then you don't need me to tell you that sitting all day long is rough on a human body. From tight hips to sore calves and wrecked posture, office work can be a (literal) pain in the neck. .
Why foam rolling? It helps loosen up the connective tissues in the body, which keeps you feeling more supple and protects against the injuries and chronic pain that can come with perpetually tight connective tissues. Because desk workers are prone to tightness throughout the lower and upper body, foam rolling serves as the perfect antidote to all that sitting. Here are four foam rolling moves that will help relieve the tensions that come with working at a desk.
Calves don't get much action while you're sitting in a chair, and that's part of the reason why they can get so tight. To roll them out, start by resting the base of the calf (near the heel) on top of the foam roller. Then cross your other foot over that leg. Next, gently rock your stacked legs from side to side and keep that movement going as you roll the foam roller toward your knee. Stop before the roller is directly under your knee, and then repeat on the other side.
Sitting for extended periods of times forces your hamstrings to remain in flexion, which is why your hamstrings probably feel so tight at the end of a long workday. When you don't take the time to loosen them up, tight hamstrings can ultimately lead to lower back pain. Avoid this issue by rolling out the hamstrings: Start by positioning the roller underneath the hamstring of one leg, just above your knee. Rock side to side as you slowly roll so that the foam roller is eventually positioned just beneath your glute. Repeat this process on the other side.
Outside of our necks and backs, the hips take the biggest beating during extended periods of sitting. And the tighter our hips get, the more likely we are to experience issues in our backs and knees. That's why it's critical to loosen up the hips--so you don't get a series of cascading issues up and down your body.
To roll them out, start by targeting the front of the hips. Lie on your side on top of the foam roller with the roller positioned near your hip. Gradually roll it back and forth toward your pelvis, then repeat on the other side.
Next, target the outside of the hips by sitting on a roller and crossing one ankle over the other leg's knee. (Use one or both hands to stabilize yourself on the floor behind you.) Then lean your weight into the hip and glute and roll back and forth. Repeat on the other side.
Sitting in a hunched position for hours at a time (as we tend to do at a desk) constricts the mid-back, which inhibits proper posture and can lead to achiness throughout the upper body. To relieve back tension, start by placing the foam roller near your lower to mid-back. Plant your glutes firmly on the ground and then lean back over the foam roller until your head rests on the ground. (If it doesn't reach, you might consider placing a small pillow under your head to prevent strain in the neck.) Rest here for a few moments, then roll up the foam roller a few inches so the roller is positioned a little higher on your back. Repeat this process until the roller is at the top of your mid-back.
Take your time when performing each of these exercises. If you discover a spot that's particularly tight, spend more time rolling out that area before moving onto another exercise. As you get more comfortable using the foam roller, you'll start to learn which areas of your body require the most TLC after a long day at work. Combine foam rolling with a regular strength training and cardio program, and you'll equip your body to fight back against the perils of desk work.