Massage rollers are a great way to stretch and relax sore or tight muscles. Massage rolling or foam rolling is also known as self-myofascial release and is similar to getting a sports massage—without the expense. If you’re not familiar with myofascial release, it’s a method of applying pressure to your muscles to release tension in constricted muscles, known as trigger points.
These trigger points often feel like small, hard nodules in the muscles in your body. It can be very painful to massage trigger points to release these tense and constricted muscles. However, if not addressed, trigger points can worsen and cause pain and even insomnia.
Fortunately, there are many foam roller exercises along with massage balls that can help relieve trigger points and tension in your body. Whether you’re an athlete or sit at a desk for your job, your body is constantly in need of myofascial release. Here are some top tips on how to sleep better using simple foam roller exercises.
Learn How to Sleep Better With a Massage Roller
If you could go to bed right after getting a massage every night, imagine how well you would sleep and how refreshed you would feel in the morning! Massage rolling provides (nearly) all the perks of a spa massage but rolling can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. Foam rollers are also inexpensive (especially when compared to the cost of countless massages), which makes them a great option for budget-conscious individuals.
Massage rollers are effective at helping you get better sleep for several reasons: they reduce stress in the body, work out trigger points, ease muscle soreness, and promote spinal flexibility.
- Reduce Stress
Throughout the day you encounter many stressors that contribute to muscle tension and soreness. Perhaps work is stressful, or your job requires a lot of physical labor. In either case, daily physical and mental stress cause trigger points and soreness that affect your sleeping habits. Rolling before bed increases your dopamine and serotonin levels which makes you feel good and help you sleep better.
- Trigger Point Relief
If you struggle with insomnia, your trigger points could be to blame. Pain and soreness from trigger points can keep you up at night and contribute to fatigue throughout the day. Heated massage rollers can especially help with deep trigger points, because heat relaxes muscles as you roll them out. Remember to take it slow while you work out specific trigger points. Focus on one spot and slowly roll over it for a minimum of 60 seconds.
- Relieve Muscle Soreness
Studies have shown that using a foam roller can greatly reduce muscle soreness, especially after intense physical activity. If you hit the gym regularly, you know how grueling an intense workout can be. Imagine recovering from leg day faster and decreasing your chances of injury if you’re a runner. Reducing muscles soreness will also help you fall asleep faster and wake up without feeling like you got beat up in the gym yesterday.
- Increased Spinal Flexibility
The upper spine is very prone to stiffness, especially if you sit at a desk all day. A stiff back means your neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips will feel tense throughout the day and while you try to sleep. Increasing your spinal flexibility is important because it reduces aches and pain and improves your posture.
Foam Roller Exercises for Better Sleep
There are many great foam roller exercises that can assist you in getting a better night’s sleep. Here are a few of the best exercises to do before you head off to bed.
- Neck Release
Place your massage roller under your neck and gently turn your head left to right. Make sure to turn your head slowly and do not press your neck into the foam roller. The weight of your head is sufficient to work out your neck muscles.
This exercise is extremely beneficial for stretching shortened muscles in the neck. It improves blood circulation, increases oxygen flow, and can reduce headaches and neck pain.
- Mid/Upper Back Release
Position the massage roller horizontally between your shoulders and place your hands under your head as though you were going to do a sit up. Slowly roll up and down, stopping along the way if you encounter tense spots or trigger points in your back. To focus on these areas, slowly roll up and down just on the tense area, then gently roll side-to-side to release more tension.
As you do this exercise your back may crack a little, and it may be uncomfortable, but it’s an excellent exercise for releasing tension. Also, be careful not to roll the lower back or the neck—these are sensitive areas that require a different approach.
- Lower Back Release
Using your elbow for support, bend your knees and lean back on your foam roller with one side of your lower back touching the massage roller. Your legs and elbow will help you control the amount of pressure on your lower back. Roll slowly in a small focused area on the side of your lower back—the roller should not touch your spine in this exercise. Switch sides and slowly roll the other side of your lower back.
This foam roller exercise is excellent for reducing lower back tension that comes from sitting all day.
When you begin foam roller exercises, make sure you start with your shoulders. Roll slowly over each shoulder for at least 60 seconds, and use your body weight to massage muscles, applying pressure in a press-and-roll motion on your massage roller.
Which Massage Roller is Best?
There are many options when it comes to the type of massage roller you can use. Some rollers are made from softer foam, some from firmer foam with ridges, and others are extremely rigid with hollow cores for deep muscle penetration. There are also varying lengths of rollers for different purposes and experience levels.
Smaller rollers are better for targeting specific areas and for mobility exercises. Small, hard rollers can be very beneficial for targeting specific trigger points in deep muscle tissue. If you want additional muscle relaxation and targeted relief, combining heat therapy with foam rolling will give you added benefits. Moji offers heated foam rollers that assist in relaxing tense muscles.
Using a massage roller is a great way to reduce stress and help you learn how to sleep better. As you learn how to do these foam roller exercises, you’ll notice the difference in how refreshed you feel when you wake up in the morning and how you feel throughout the day. Use a heated foam roller to diminish intense trigger points and get the best sleep of your life.