cold water immersion

Research Update: Can Cold Water Immersion Improve Recovery?

Cold water immersion (CWI) therapy has been reported to offer distinct health benefits, with numerous health influencers, fitness sites, and medical studies offering confirmation of its benefits. However, we wanted to look at the science behind CWI therapy to help determine how effective it can be in improving performance. Are there benefits? Let’s take a look below, as we cover the research and ask, can cold water immersion improve recovery and aid in performance development?

What is Cold Water Immersion

CWI therapy is the practice of using water that’s around 59°F (15°C) to treat health conditions or stimulate health benefits. It’s also known as cold hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is one of the basic methods of treatment widely used in the system of natural medicine, which is also called water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy.

Reported Benefits of CWI

Scanning both popular and research literature, there are several reported CWI benefits. These include:

  • Reduce swelling
  • Reduce painful sensations in association with muscle pain
  • Reduce the feeling of fatigue
  • Regulate localized blood flow
  • Regulate localized tissue and internal temperature
  • Regulate heart rate
  • Reduce muscle spasms
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce muscle damage
  • Improve range of motion

Research Findings of CWI

In reviewing the research on CWI, CoreTek focused on the following three questions:

  1. Does CWI research suggest it provides benefits in recovery? (any signs it works?)
  2. Does any CWI research suggest it provides benefits in excess of other recovery means? (does it have anything special that other techniques cannot provide?)
  3. Are the requirements of any effective CWI therapy within the capability of the traditional athletes? (if it does work, can the average person implement the therapy?)

Our review of research found multiple journals with recent, or relatively recent, studies that assess CWI, either on its own, or as part of a larger review of hydrotherapy effectiveness.

Does CWI Provide Recovery Benefits

According to a study of evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, cold exposure to a small surface area produced compensatory vasodilatation in the deeper vascular system resulting in increased blood flow to the tissues underlying the site of the exposure. The same study found that immersion at 14°C increased the metabolic rate by 350 %, heart rate by 5 %, systolic blood pressure by 7 %, and diastolic pressure by 8 %. Additionally, plasma noradrenaline increased by 530 % and dopamine concentrations by 250 %. Repeated CWI was associated with a reduced frequency in infections, increased peak expiratory flow, lymphocyte counts, and expression of gamma-interferon. Lastly, the study noted that CWI < 15°C, which is one of the most popular methods used after exercise, significantly lowered ratings of fatigue and potentially improved ratings of physical recovery immediately after immersion with a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness at 24, 48, 72, and 96-hour follow-ups.

A more recent study in the Journal of Physiology that compared the effect of CWI and active recovery on inflammatory and cellular stress responses in skeletal muscle suggested that CWI is no more effective than active recovery for minimizing the inflammatory and stress responses in muscle after resistance training. In this study, participants were provided CWI five minutes after the training session or an active recovery consisting of low intensity using a stationary bike. Blood and tissue samples were taken 30 minutes, and 1, 2, 24, and 48 hours after exercise, and were compared to pre-exercise samples. The authors concluded that current findings do not suggest CWI mitigates the stress-related signals that stimulate the cellular movement of HSPs (Heat shock proteins are a large family of molecular chaperones that are well-known for their roles in protein maturation) after exercise. One interesting aspect of the study, noted by the authors, was muscle soreness. The authors noted that a reduction in muscle soreness after intense exercise may be the most consistent effect of CWI, and that this aspect was not part of the study.

A final study we will offer is from the international journal Research in Sports Medicine. This focuses on the effects of CWI with a higher CO2 concentration (CCWI) on aerobic cycling work efficiency. The authors concluded that a reduction in heart rate following immersion was the largest at CCWI compared to the other conditions. They concluded that CCWI is an effective intervention for maintaining repeated cycling work efficiency, which might be associated with reduced blood lactate levels and heart rate.

With these studies, and other studies we considered, our view is that CWI can provide a benefit to performance training recovery – however, you should be fully aware that the effect of CWI treatments on exercise performance and recovery are distinct, and influenced by many factors including the duration, timing, magnitude, individual responses, and nature of the activity. As with training programs, there is no universal standard for therapies – what can work for one person’s physiology, may not work for another.

Does CWI Offer Unique Recovery Benefits

So if we have answered if cold water therapy can improve recovery, what are its unique benefits? Well, none – if you follow the research.

Many studies have looked at CWIs effects on weight loss, immune system improvement, body fat composition, recovery times, etc. While studies have shown that CWI can possibly impact these areas, many of the same studies identified that other recovery techniques or recovery methods produce comparable results. What we keep coming back to is the way a recovery program makes the individual feel, and in that regard, the perception of CWI, or reaction to how one physically feels as a result, may be the primary indicator of its success. In that, many studies have directly linked preference to an activity to one’s perception of its success. If CWI is a preferred recovery method, then the psychological aspect of that preference also needs to be considered.

How to Administer CWI

Using CWI therapy methods is not difficult. However, as exposure to cold can have varying reactions on each physiology, we recommend you attempt gradual exposure to cold water, before taking a (literal) plunge. Below are four basic ways to conduct CWI:

  • Gradual Shower: Work up from warm, and get colder. We recommend waiting a few minutes at each temperture change, and gradually drop the temperature.
  • Cold Shower: Just start at cold, and keep it there. You will likley find this helpful, and easiest to endure if you just finished an intense workout where your body temperature and metabolism are both elevated.
  • Ice Bath Immersion: Add ice to water until the temperature is between 10°C and 15°C, and stay submerged for only 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Short Cold Water Swim: First, follow all safety protocols for swimming. Second, be very careful in this technique, as whereas in the other techniques you can rapidly remove yourself from the cold if there are issues, swimming in cold water is not something you can easily get out of if you have have temperatue issues. A buddy system is helpful in this one.

Most important in administering CWI is to listen to your body – and if you have any health concerns – check with a physician before attempting any of these. We do not encourage you to ever start a new fitness, recovery, or nutrition program without first researching how it affects your own unique condition.


So, can cold water immersion therapy improve recovery? Generally speaking, yes. However, the research suggests its level of effectiveness, when compared to other recovery therapies is not incredibly unique. The biggest item we noted in our review of the research is how it altered the research participants’ perception of recovery. That is, it clearly improves the perception of how the body feels. We suspect that is linked to the chemical stimuli triggered by the CWI effect, notably in dopamine levels. But to offer a final caveat, there are certain medical conditions in which CWI can offer direct benefits, as several studies indicated – however, as those benefits pertained to medical conditions and not exercise recovery, we excluded those from our commentary and assessment.

As with all areas of your health, if CWI is of interest, we recommend you seek professional guidance on how best to implement new techniques into your performance training efforts. Only by working with a specialist who can answer your unique questions, and adjusts a training, nutrition, or recovery program to your unique needs will you see the most benefit.

– Train Hard!

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Top Winter Performance Tips

You are not alone if you struggle to maintain your fitness routine during the winter months. Your routine faces shorter daylight hours, harsher weather, holiday events, family gatherings, and of course, lots of food. If you feel like you have to choose between performance and the season, then let’s do a reset on that mentality, and then get down to work with our top winter performance tips!

First, it’s all on you. If you want your routine, then it’s not a choice at all – you just get it done. With the proper performance mindset, you will find you can easily sustain your performance during the winter months.

Second, you are going to have to make some adjustments to deal with the variances of the winter months. Proper planning is about adapting to life’s events to keep you on your performance track.

Third – with all the winter events, you better have some fun and down time in there. Performance is balance. As hard as you push and focus on your plans, you need mental health as well. Time with friends and family, a day or two of rest, and other items are just as important to sustaining your performance as squeezing out one more AMRAP session.

We’ve done cold-weather exercise before – but this time, we’ve selected three tips for each of the performance triad elements – fitness/movement, nutrition, and rest/recovery, to focus on key areas to keep your performance on track.


For this part of the performance triad, in the winter months, there are three key tips to keep you on track:

  • Stay Active: Keeping active is the key to coming out of the winter months with your performance levels intact. No matter what the schedule, travel plans, weather forced closures, etc, you can run, jog, walk, do home workouts of bodyweight exercises, yoga, callisthenics, etc. By keeping active, you will keep your metabolism fired up, which will help in many areas: weight management, stress management, hormone balance, and sleep patterns.
  • Dress for the Weather: It can be tricky or at times deceptive to dress for winter exercise. Too much, and you can develop hyperthermia, too little and you risk developing hypothermia. Layering is the best approach. We can break it all down, our send you here, where Very Well Fit has a great article on cold-weather layering.
  • Join a Class: One of the best ways to stay motivated is to develop a means of accountability. If you find yourself wavering during the winter months, a class is a way to impose a sense of accountability to your efforts. Whether because you spent the money, or you do not want to be a no-show in front of others – class membership has been shown to help in fitness routines. If commitment is not an issue – then try taking a class in something you would not do the rest of the year when you are on your normal routine. Yoga, spinning, CrossFit, and others are great ways to keep active, make new fitness friends, and have fun.


With all the food choices, most of which are carb and sugar loaded, it can appear challenging to sustain a performance diet – but we can help with these tips (which all directly tie together):

  • Plan Your Meals: This is a tip that is a constant year round, but likely more important during the winter months when gatherings, family meals, and sweets abound. It can be easy to get caught up in all the food – but this is where meal planning can save you. By planning your meals, you can ensure you sustain proper nutrients, and not face the cravings of an empty stomach vs plate of winter sugar cookies! Planning your meals does not mean you cannot have sweets or those other holiday meals – rather, by planning you will ensure that you are getting proper nutrition at all other times, and not over-indulging when those festive times come.
  • Limit Sugar: Excessive sugar intake is one of the quickest way to add to fat storage. Now this might be hard during the winter season – this is one where you need to focus on keeping your sugar intake under control. But if you plan your meals, as noted above, then you will help keep your body fuelled and it will be easier to resist sugar and all the excessive calories that come with it.
  • High Protein Intake: Protein is a key tool in diet management. It keeps you satiated – meaning you are less likely to indulge in excess eating, and helps your body burn calories by being a denser material to digest. Ensure your meals contain good sources of protein, such as chicken and fish, and you will help control your desire to eat excessive amounts of unhealthy food items.


The third part of the performance triad, and often most neglected is rest and recovery. Your winter performance routine needs to have adequate rest and recovery to ensure you are maintaining a balanced performance pattern. Here are three tips to support your efforts:

  • Get Adequate Rest: While the nights may be longer, many do not get adequate sleep and rest during the winter months. Limited and insufficient sleep can have even more effects on your body than muscle health. If you are one who puts off getting adequate rest, you risk impaired concentration, mood changes, weight gain, and a weakened immune system – something you do not want at the peak of cold and flu season! We’ve listed tips before, here, to help you get your proper rest and recovery time.
  • Stretch/Do Yoga: Recovery means resting your muscles. Not only through sleep, but also through stretching and exercise such as yoga. These techniques will help your muscles rest and recover from resistance training or hard cardio training. By giving your muscles care, you not only reduce the risk of injury, but also aid in their ability to recover and provide sustained performance training. If you are looking for tips on specifics, you can check out our other work on adding yoga to your routine.
  • Vitamin D: Make sure you get as much natural sunlight as possible. Natural sunlight exposure is the easiest and most reliable way for most people to get vitamin D – and the hardest to maintain in the winter months. Normal exposure of the hands, face, arms, and legs to sunlight 2-3 times a week for 10-30 minutes is sufficient time to produce enough vitamin D. The necessary exposure time varies with age, skin type, season, time of day, and other factors. During periods of sunlight, vitamin D is stored in your body fat and then released when sunlight is gone.

If you just finished reading, and are thinking these top winter performance tips sound easy – they are, but at the same time, so many people fall off their performance routines during the winter months because they do not follow these simple steps. So easy yes, but yet not done by so many who come out of winter wondering how they got out of shape!

In the end, do not confuse a performance mindset with difficulty. It’s the dedication during the winter months that makes your performance, not the difficulty. Follow these tips, and watch how you charge into spring weather!

– Train Hard!

Creatine Supplements: Effects on Muscle Performance

There are a lot of articles out in the fitness world that talk about the wonders of creatine supplements. Many supplement companies not only have creatine as a standalone product, but include it in pre-workout mixes.

So this stuff must be great, right? As we did with our Pre-Workout article, we’re going to try to give you simple, yet science based take on creatine to help guide you in your health and fitness decisions.

So what is creatine, and how does it work?

Let’s start with the science – adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the most basic form of energy in your body’s cells. It plays a fundamental role in metabolism and muscle function.

Biochemically, ATP is a nucleoside triphosphate, which indicates that it consists of three components: a nitrogenous base (adenine), the sugar ribose, and the triphosphate.

In muscle performance, ATP acts in the following manner with myosin, which is a motor protein best known for its role in muscle contraction:

  • ATP prepares myosin for binding with actin by moving it to a higher- energy state and a “cocked” position.
  • ATP must bind to myosin to break the cross-bridge and enable the myosin to rebind to actin at the next muscle contraction.

Mechanism of muscle contraction.

For training, or any intense muscle activity, your muscles typically store only enough ATP for 8–10 seconds of high-intensity exercise. After this, your body must produce new ATP to match the demands of your physical activity.

Simply put, this is why you can burst few short periods of energy and muscle movement, but cannot sustain those levels.

We’re getting to the part about the creatine…

A study by the Centre for Human Sciences in 2000 showed that fatigue sustained during short-term, high-intensity exercise is associated with the inability of skeletal muscle to maintain a high rate of anaerobic ATP production from phosphocreatine hydrolysis – and that the ingestion of creatine monohydrate at a rate of 20 g/d for 5-6 d was shown to increase the total creatine concentration of human skeletal muscle by approximately 25 mmol/kg dry mass, some 30% of this in phosphorylated form as phosphocreatine.

Moreover, the study showed that a loss of ATP during heavy anaerobic exercise was found to decline after creatine ingestion, despite an increase in work production. These results suggest that improvements in performance are due to parallel improvements in ATP resynthesis during exercise as a consequence of increased phosphocreatine availability.

Short version – Creatine supplements increase your body’s stores of phosphocreatine, which in turn helps support your body’s ability to create ATP and replenish the depleted supply to continue fueling muscle activity.

Other Creatine Benefits

Increase in the water content of your muscle cells.

Increase in repetitions and weight loads of training sessions.

May reduce muscle breakdown and assist in post work out recovery.

Lastly, a study in 2010 from the Department of Sport Science was conducted to determine the effect of resistance training for 8 weeks in conjunction with creatine supplementation on muscle strength, lean body mass, and serum levels of myostatin and growth. The researchers found that creatine increased muscle mass when added to an exercise regimen and resulted in a “significant decrease in serum levels of myostatin,” which is a protein that inhibits muscle cell growth.

So that’s it – creatine helps your body maintain its ATP levels, which in turn help muscle output, recovery, and growth.

Does that mean you should take it?

That is a discussion between you, your health provider, and if available, registered dietician. But hopefully, with our comments, you are now better informed about one of the more prolific supplements on the market.

As always

-Train Hard!


Maintain proper rest

Proper Rest for Recovery and Growth

With all the effort into your workout and diet, did you realize that failing to add the proper amount of rest and recovery into your efforts can undermine and work against you?

Sleep is an important part of your body’s repair and maintenance efforts. For athletes, sleep is the time where the concentration of growth hormone in the body is at its highest. These hormones are the building blocks to your muscle recovery and growth.

How important is that good night’s sleep to your recovery?

A 2018 study performed by Uppsala University in Sweden took fat and muscle samples from 15 healthy young men on two separate mornings – one after a good night’s sleep and the other after they lay awake all night. After the sleepless night, the participants’ muscles showed signs of protein breakdown. Their fat tissue, in contrast, had elevated levels of proteins and metabolites that are involved in promoting fat storage.

Limited and insufficient sleep can have even more effects on your body than muscle health. If you are one who puts off getting adequate rest, here are other things you might encounter:

  • Memory issues
  • Impaired concentration
  • Mood changes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Risk of diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of heart disease
  • Poor balance
  • Reduced sex drive

Now before you think that another shot of an energy drink solves all this…

Stimulants (caffeine, energy drinks, etc) aren’t enough to override your body’s need for sleep. In fact, these can make sleep deprivation worse by making it harder to fall asleep at night. Which, you guessed it… may make you end up in a cycle of insufficient sleep.

So what are the signs this may be an issue? One sleepless night, or one tired day is something we all experience. It is not the one time or rare occurrence that we are talking about. What you should watch out for are signs of:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues

And remember what you can tolerate as part of your routine, and how much sleep you need, is not a constant throughout your life. Just because you could push your limits in your 20’s does not mean those are your same limits later in life. As your body changes over time, so does your metabolism and other physiological aspects that will impact how much sleep you require to stay healthy, and see the benefits or your training efforts.

If you are in need of a few basic tips to manage your rest cycles, try these:

  1. Stick to a regular time for bed, it will keep your body on a schedule
  2. Do not over-sleep on the weekends, or off days, as this too will impact your body’s ability to manage its rests cycles
  3. Be careful with naps; they are fine, but too many, too long, or at the wrong time, and you can mess up your body’s sleep cycle
  4. During the day, get as much exposure to light as possible; this not only helps the body develop vitamin D, but also helps tell it to be awake
  5. At night, limit the amount of exposure to bright lights – like television, and computer screens – this will help ensure your body knows it is time to shut down
  6. When it is time to sleep, keep the room dark
  7. Try to avoid physical activities such as exercise within three hours of your expected bed time – exercise activates your metabolism, which in turn makes it hard to sleep
  8. If you do want to add an activity to help you rest, there are simple yoga techniques that you may find beneficial,
  9. And, limit caffeine and alcohol at night; one clearly does not work well with trying to rest, and while the other might make you relax, it can interfere with your sleep cycle once you are asleep

If you are looking for more advise and understanding on the importance of sleep and recovery, we recommend you try these resources by Sleep Help:

As we always end our sections with Train Hard, in this case…

– Rest Hard!

Overtraining Risks

Yes, there is such a thing as too much training. While we all know the value of training, and pushing yourself to achieve your fitness goals, even the best intended workout routines and regiments can be overdone. If you are not allowing your body the proper rest and nutrients it needs to recover and develop from all your efforts, you risk developing overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining syndrome is a condition that occurs when the body is pushed (through exercise) beyond its natural ability to recover. It can be easy to confuse tiredness with overtraining. If you are routinely working out, you can expect a certain amount of exhaustion with your program. Overtraining syndrome is when you are training past this point, and not enabling your body to recover. Before you think this is not an issue – there are some aspects you need to know about how overtraining can create risks to your health.

Overtraining Risks

1. Elevated Resting Heart Rate

A healthy resting heart range (RHR) is 60-100 beats per minute and the more you exercise, the lower your RHR will be. Highly trained athletes may have RHR ranges in the 40s.

However, in periods of overtraining, you might notice that your RHR is 10-15 beats per minute higher than usual. There are a host of issues that can come with an elevated resting heart rate – and if the condition is prolonged, you may find it takes longer to recover.

2. Insomnia

Killing yourself at the gym can actually make it harder to get to sleep. Sounds counterintuitive, but too much exercise can actually limit your ability to get the all important rest you need to recover from the same exercise. You end up creating a viscous circle if you do not recognize if this is happening to you.

If you are going to bed tired but unable to get to sleep and this coincides with an increase or prolonged training frequency, you may be over training.

Take a few days away from the gym in order to recover and let your hormones and central nervous system restore their equilibrium.

3. Muscular Soreness

This is not post-workout muscle soreness; it’s normal have some level of soreness for a day or two after training.

However, if these aches last more than three days, it’s probably a sign that your body has not adequately been able to recover and you need to consider taking a break in training. Another sign to watch for is if this soreness is in areas you have not trained – or just all over. This too is a sign you are not resting sufficiently after training.

4. Poor Performance

A drop in your performance is one of the key signs of overtraining. You have a goal, and you train hard to reach it – but you can unwind all that work if you do not allow your body to rest. Strength, power, speed, and stamina will all be affected if your body cannot rest. You may find that increasing your strength, losing or gaining weight, or your other fitness goals’ progress slows down or plateaus. If you find that your workouts are just getting worse, and you have other symptoms, consider time off. It might be only a few days, it might be a week. Your body is telling you it needs rest, and if you want to keep your fitness gains, you would be wise to listen.

Signs of Overtraining

These are in some ways similar to the risks, but more importantly also signs that you might be overtraining. Watch for them, and you can avoid even getting to the risks!

1.Excessive Fatigue

Fatigue will accumulate in a body that never has a chance to fully recover from previous workouts. Moreover, sustained energy expenditure leads to something called “low energy availability,” which means that the body is consistently pulling from its own energy stores (carbs, protein, fat). This can be the result of too much training or too little fueling.

2.Loss of Appetite

A hormone imbalance can also affect hunger and satiety mechanisms. More training should stimulate more appetite, but the physiological exhaustion of overtraining syndrome can actually lead to appetite suppression.

3.Metabolic Imbalances

Long-term low energy availability may lead to nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia, which have the potential to harm both health and performance. Medical complications can also involve the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, nervous or reproductive systems (e.g., menstrual cycle disturbances in women).

4.Increased Perceived Effort During Workouts

Not only can overtraining decrease performance, it can also make seemingly effortless workouts feel unusually difficult. A clear sign of this is an abnormally elevated heart rate during exercise or throughout the day. If you are experiencing overtraining syndrome, you may find that it takes longer for your heart rate to return to normal after a workout.

5. Insomnia or Restless Sleep

Sleep provides the body time to rest and repair itself. But overproduction of stress hormones caused by overtraining may not allow you to wind down or completely relax, making sleep much less effective (which compounds chronic fatigue and moodiness).


There are several ways you can objectively measure some signs of overtraining. A common and easy method is to record your heart rates over time. Track your RHR. If your RHR increases and you experience other symptoms, you may heading into overtraining syndrome.


If you suspect you are overtraining, start with the following:

  • Reduce or stop the exercise and allow yourself a few days of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary.
  • Get a massage that can help relax you mentally and physically.
  • Try cross training as it often helps athletes who are overworking certain muscles or suffering from mental fatigue.

Final Thoughts

If you are following a proper training plan, then rest, recovery, and good nutrition should already part of your routine. Remember, there is no need for high intensity or exhausting training all the time. If you look into any professional athlete’s training program, you will find they all incorporate off days and rest – and you should follow their example. You can cause more damage, and slow your results by neglecting the rest your body will need to accommodate your training.

-Train Hard…and Train Smart!

Foam Rolling Benefits

You train, eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and yet your muscles still get sore and tight. It can be frustrating to feel great about your workout, but still have the aches and tightness that can come with your training success.

That is where the magic of foam rolling can help.

For those of you that have not tried foam rolling, there are many benefits:

  1. Increased blood flow
  2. Improved movement
  3. Better range of motion
  4. Improved recovery time

Foam rolling is a myofascial release technique. In simplest terms, myofascial release is a process of applying tension to the muscles over a period of time that allows them to relax. This in turn improves blood flow to the muscles, which helps bring in nutrients that help muscles recover from training.

Self-massage with a foam roller is a great way to achieve myofascial release. There are many foam rollers available, so locating one is not too hard. Whether you get one that is very firm, or soft, is going to depend on your needs. While there are articles that advocate one form over the other, the end is really your preference and the results that you obtain. If within your budget, we recommend two – one that is firm, and one in a soft-to moderate range. In this manner, you can use the roller that best suits your particular muscle need.

When to foam roll

You can foam roll any time. It can be part of your morning wake-up routine, at the end of a long day to help relax, or added to the beginning or end of a training session. Adding it to the beginning of a training session will help warm up your muscles and improve the blood flow prior to your exercises. After your workout can help smooth back out tight muscles that have been stressed during your training motions. Unlike stretching before a workout, which can lessen the degree of muscle contraction capacity that will then reduce your lifting ability, foam rolling will not likely degrade your workouts. Moreover, warming up your muscles before a workout will help reduce the risks of injury.

How to foam roll

The back: Foam rolling your back is likely the easiest muscle group to work, and in addition to warming up your muscles, also can reduce stress. The motion is simple, place the foam roller on the floor, and lie back onto it. Using your legs, roll your body along the roller, focusing on tight, sore areas. You can rock your body to focus on specific sides, cross your arms in a hugging motion to put more emphasis between your back and the roller, or stretch out your arms to increase the muscle stretch. Be careful to support your neck, and avoid putting excessive stress directly on your spine.  As with any physical activity, listen to your body. There are tight sore muscles and physical pain – pay attention to the difference.

The legs: The sides of the thighs are a typical area that benefits from foam rolling, as it is often tight and can lead to injury if not properly maintained. The IT band, which runs from your hips to your knees will benefit from the myofascial release, as will your lower back. While lying on your side, work the roller up and down your outer thigh. Do not be surprised if this is painful – this area can be tight! Use your hands and feet to balance your body as you roll. Let the weight of your body pressing into the roller do all the work – pause on tight areas, and just let the muscle relax.

For your quadriceps, you will lie face down. Put the roller either at your hips, or just above your knees. Using your arms, move your body to roll the roller up and down your legs. Pause on the tight spots, and let them relax. If you are in something like a cobra yoga pose, then you have the motion for this one right.

The calves: You would be surprised how often these are tight. This is an easy area to address with a foam roller. Sit upright with your legs straight in front. Place the roller under your lower legs, and using your arms, move your legs up and down the roller. Like the thighs and back, let the weight of your body press into the roller. If you need to push more into the roller, you can work one leg at a time, while you push your leg into the roller with your hands. As always, pause on the tight sore spots, and let the weight of your body smooth out the muscle.

The shoulders: These can require a bit of practices, but they too will benefit from foam rolling. Like with your outer thighs, lie on your side, with the foam roller just below your shoulder, where it rounds out back into your arm. Using your hands and legs, move your shoulder onto the roller. Do not go to far, our you will come off the roller! Just work the shoulder slowly, letting your weight do all the work.

Other body parts: The method of foam rolling is the same – steady rolling pressure. Here is where we have to stop giving specifics, and just say to you “figure out the pose, and roll.” There are also many hand held rolling devices that you can buy to help with smaller muscle groups.

By foam rolling, your muscles will get the benefits of myofascial release, you will see improvements in your training, and will likely overall feel better. Best of all, you can obtain this for only a small investment in personal training equipment.

-Train Hard!

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