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Running and participating in sports are great ways to stay fit and be active. However, sports can put a strain on your lower back. Running can be hard on your lower back, especially if you have a pre-existing lower back injury. As your spine compresses and expands, your lower back feels the impact as your feet hit the ground with each step. Below are three lower back injury exercises, tips, and stretches that you can do at home to help treat your lower back injury.

1. Get in a Proper Warm-Up

Too often, a lower back injury occurs because you haven’t had a complete warm-up before going on a run. A proper warm-up includes these three things:

  • Get the blood circulating by doing a light jog.
  • Stretch. Make sure you are stretching out your legs and your back before going for a run
  • No rigorous movements at the start. Jog before you sprint.

These tips might seem silly, but they will make sure your body is ready to start working hard and will help prevent not only a lower back injury but other common runner injuries as well.

2. Applying Heat and Stretch

Gentle stretching and applying heat are recommended for a lower back injury. This makes the MojiHeat Lower Back Wrap ideal for treating lower back pain. The Moji back wrap uses moist heat, which penetrates deeply into the muscle for targeted relief. Another product to consider is the MojiHeat Heated Roller. It’s also a great lower back injury treatment tool. Foam rollers are an outstanding way to gently stretch and massage a lower back injury. Simply place the roller under your lower back and gently roll back and forth to stretch your lower back. The pressure provides a deep massage to really work the muscles in the lower back, with the added advantage of heat from the MojiHeat roller.

3. Strengthen Your Core

A lot of lower back pain might stem from a lack of hip mobility as you run. The lack of hip mobility is often a symptom of a weak core and the lack of flexibility in that area. Focusing on your core and doing more core exercises can help to improve your form and flexibility when running and lead to less strain on your lower back. Here’s a great core exercise you can do at home with the foam roller.

  • Lie down with foam roller at your mid back
  • Place your hands behind your back for support
  • Don’t arch your back engage your abs
  • Using your feet (while your abs are still engaged) move your body up and down on the roller
  • Don’t go past the base of your neck or the bottom of your rib cage as you roll
  • Roll for one to three minutes

This is a great core workout that you can do at home that will start to help your lower back injury.

As with all injuries, don’t hesitate to see a doctor after an injury. A doctor will give you even more ways to help treat a lower back injury and help you find ways to prevent further pain. For more information about common running and sports injuries and ways to treat them, check out more from Moji and see our other blog posts.

Massage rollers have a variety of uses and applications. Athletes have used massage or foam rollers for years to promote flexibility and improve recovery time. However, the benefits of foam rolling don’t end there. More people are learning that massage rollers can help to relieve trigger points and tension as well as promote blood circulation throughout the body.

Massage Roller Benefits Improve Blood Circulation

Massage rolling provides many benefits when it comes to overall health. These benefits include improving blood circulation and releasing tension through myofascial release. By applying and holding pressure at various points on the body, known as trigger points, myofascial release relaxes tense muscles. These trigger points often feel like hard nodules under the muscle tissue in your body. The use of a foam roller helps to effectively roll out tense muscles while encouraging oxygen flow to improve overall circulation.

Massage rollers provide many of the same benefits as sports massages. While sports massages are a great option, they can get expensive. However, a good massage roller will only set you back anywhere from $30 to $200. Combining advanced heat therapy with foam rolling to penetrate deep into the muscle tissue gives you a more intense massage.

Effects of Poor Blood Circulation

Poor blood circulation is almost inevitable as you get older. Vascular endothelial function declines with age and arteries become stiffer. Stiff arteries lead to arteriosclerosis which is an increased hardness and stiffening of the artery wall and buildup of plaque in the arteries. This is dangerous because it can lead to blood clots, which are often life-threatening.

Thankfully, early prevention using massage rolling and other forms of stretching can greatly improve vascular endothelial function. In the early stages of arterial stiffness, massage rolling can slow, stop, or even reverse the stiffening of arteries. Flexibility exercises like yoga or foam rolling have been shown to improve flexibility and improve vascular endothelial function.

One such study was conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Masuhara Okamoto. In his study, 10 healthy individuals were selected and instructed to perform a few foam roller exercises, mostly focused on the lower body. After just 30 minutes, arterial function was tested, and the exercise group performed higher than the control group who did not perform the exercises. The study showed that positive improvements in blood circulation could be achieved in a very short amount of time.

How Do Massage Rollers Improve Blood Circulation?

Massage rollers are particularly effective at promoting blood circulation because they literally push blood out of your muscles and replace it with new, oxygenated blood carrying glycogen. Oxygen and glycogen are essential for muscle repair, and more oxygen means better circulation. This is why breathing during foam rolling is so important. Focus on taking deep breaths as your roll to get more oxygen into your blood and muscles.

Benefits of Improved Blood Circulation

Alongside improved arterial function, improved blood circulation can aid you in many aspects of life as well. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Reduced Injury—Muscle recovery and flexibility aid in coordination and can help prevent injuries.
  • Increased Flexibility—Foam rolling improves flexibility, allowing you to engage more muscles during a workout.
  • Lowers Muscle Recovery Time—Forcing oxygenated blood and glycogen into the muscles improves recovery. Massaging also reduces lactic acid buildup which leads to sore muscles.
  • Chiropractic Aid—Massage rolling your back can extend the time needed between chiropractic appointments.

If you find yourself short on time, focus on doing a short massage rolling session before working out. It will help you get the most out of your workout.

3 Foam Roller Exercises for Improved Blood Circulation

When foam rolling for improved blood circulation, it is most effective to focus on the major muscle groups during your rolling session. These areas include the back, IT band, calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings. If rolled regularly, these main muscle groups can improve blood circulation.

1. Thoracic Spine Roll

For this exercise, you will need a massage roller placed beneath your shoulders. Bend your knees and place your hands behind your head like you’re about to do a sit-up. Roll up and down slowly, avoiding the lower spine. You can also extend your hands straight back over your head, as though you were diving, to give yourself a deeper stretch. Make sure to pause at any tense points and gently rock side to side to work them out.

2. IT Band Roll

Place the massage roller under one hip. Cross your legs so the leg you are not leaning on is out in front of you. This leg will help you control your movement throughout the exercise. Allow your other leg to rest on the foam roller. Gently roll your hip over the roller in a slow, small area. Be careful to avoid going down to the knee or onto the hip bones.

3. Hamstring Roll

For this roll, place the massage roller under the back of your legs. Cross your feet and place your legs out in front of you. Your hands should be on the floor behind you supporting your weight and controlling the movement of this roll. Gently roll up and down on the back of the legs to release tension in the hamstrings.

These are just a few simple exercises that release tension and promote increased blood circulation throughout the body. Try them out the next time you’re at the gym, or right before you go to bed to relax for the evening.

The Dos and Don’ts of Foam Rolling

There is a safe way to do foam rolling and an unsafe way. While massage rolling has many benefits, you can easily do more harm than good if you’re not careful. Following are a few of the biggest dos and don’ts of massage rolling:

  • Don’t spend more than 60 seconds on an area—You want to take it slow but if you spend too long on any one area you can bruise yourself or hit a nerve and cause pain.
  • Move the roller around your whole body—It won’t improve circulation throughout your entire body if you only roll out your back.
  • Breathe deeply—Breathing helps to distribute more oxygen into your muscles and relieves stress and tension. Deep breathing also allows you to get a deeper stretch as you roll.
  • Avoid joints and hard areas—You don’t want to hurt your knees or lower back by rolling on joints or your spine instead of your muscles.
  • Major muscle groups should get all the focus—This includes quads, hamstrings, IT band, and back.
  • Apply heat to improve circulation—Using a heated massage roller can release additional tension and promote blood circulation.

Following these simple tips will ensure you use your massage roller in a safe and effective way.

Massage rollers are great for promoting blood circulation and myofascial release. As you learn more exercises, you’ll notice a difference in your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re looking for advance tension release and improved blood circulation, a heated massage roller is an excellent way to combine the benefits of heat therapy with massage rolling. Begin rolling your way to a healthier body and discover the benefits of massage rolling today!

 

Foam roller benefits are endless. From helping you sleep better and reducing stress to increasing blood circulation and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, there’s a foam roller out there for you. You may think foam rollers are only for athletes or dancers, but knowledge about foam roller benefits and how they can be used has come a long way. They’re not just for athletes anymore.

Why Use Foam Rollers?

Simple daily activities can strain and constrict your muscles more than you may realize. Small chores like lifting heavy groceries, running to catch a bus, or even just sitting at a desk for work, strain your muscles and cause tension. Foam rollers are an aid to myofascial release, meaning they help release tense muscles that form knots or trigger points in your body. Trigger points form when you exert your muscles and can cause extreme soreness. They are a result of constricting tissues surrounding sore or tense muscles and can get worse if not properly massaged.

There are many benefits of using foam rollers. Here are the top three best foam roller benefits to improve your health.

1. Get Better Sleep 

The best time to use your foam roller is right before bed. Take 15 minutes and roll out your aches and pains. Knots and trigger points can worsen over time if they are not massaged regularly. These trigger points can contribute to insomnia and back pain while you’re sleeping. If you struggle with insomnia and wake up to back pain in the morning and you’re wondering how to sleep better, try foam rolling before bed and see the results for yourself.

When fighting insomnia and back pain, spinal flexibility is especially important. Here are the main reasons to roll out your spinal area before bed:

  • Stiffness in the upper spine contributes to tension in the neck, hips, lower back, and shoulders.
  • Stiffness in the spine can lead to aches, pain, and poor posture.
  • Foam rolling can ease away back pain and stiffness.

Even if you’re not concerned with sore muscles on a daily basis, you could use foam rolling to get better sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed. Try doing a thoracic spine roll out before you go to bed. This simple roll involves placing the roller horizontally under your back, bending your knees, and crossing your hands over your chest, while gently rolling the foam roller up and down the length of your back. Be careful to avoid the neck and lower back region, as it is not suitable to use a hard foam roller in these areas. Learn how to sleep better with your foam roller.

2. Reduce Stress Reduce Stress

Going to the spa for a massage is a great way to decrease stress in your body as well as your mind. However, it’s not very feasible to pay for massages several times a week or to spend hours getting them. Thankfully, the stress relieving benefits of massage are available for a one-time fee, at a fraction of the cost. Foam rollers provide many of the same benefits as getting a traditional massage, but foam rolling can be done from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Stress manifests in your body in many ways, one of which is through tension or soreness in your muscles. By relieving tension and soreness in your muscles through foam rolling, you also decrease mental stress.

Several studies on reducing muscle soreness and tension show that foam rolling can decrease recovery time from exercise. One test involved two groups of physically fit young men who performed a series of squat exercises to induce muscle soreness. The first group used foam rollers immediately after exercise as well as 24 and 48 hours later. The second group did not use foam rollers at all. The researchers performed a vertical jump test with both groups. The group that used foam rollers performed significantly better than the control group that did not use anything to aid in muscle recovery.

Foam roller benefits also include increasing your dopamine and serotonin levels, which boosts your mood and reduces stress. Learn how to reduce stress by focusing on each muscle while foam rolling and take your mind off the stresses of the day.

3. Increase Blood Circulation Increase Blood Circulation

Foam rolling also benefits your heart health. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that consistent foam rolling improved vascular endothelial function and decreased arterial stiffness. Dysfunction of the vascular endothelial is a contributor to cardiovascular disease. When you reduce arterial stiffness, blood circulation is better and oxygen flow to the muscles improves.

When you use your foam roller, you are improving the circulation in your muscles which allows more oxygen to reach trigger points and sore areas. The improved oxygen flow to the affected area allows the muscles to heal faster and improves recovery time. By foam rolling regularly you are increasing blood circulation and promoting a healthy heart.

Foam Roller Tips

Before you begin rolling away your aches and pains, you will want to get down some of the basics of foam rolling. To get the best foam roller benefits, always start rolling with the shoulders, and then move on to other muscles that are sore and in need of attention. Use a press and roll motion when using your foam roller, your body weight will press down on sore muscles and trigger points, as you roll to relax and release them.  

To get the full benefit of rolling, make sure to focus on each muscle group for 60 seconds, rolling slowly. If you roll too quickly, you won’t work knots effectively. If you come across a trigger point while rolling, focus on that point and slowly roll it out for 60 seconds. It might be uncomfortable to roll out particularly sore or tight areas but taking it slow will make your muscles feel better afterward.

In addition to foam rolling, heat therapy can relieve sore muscles and help you roll them more effectively. Products like foam rollers from Moji, allow you to use heat therapy in conjunction with foam rolling for maximum benefits. 

Some of the benefits of heat therapy include:

  • Relaxing sore muscles.
  • Reducing muscle soreness (from a workout).
  • Releasing stiffness and releasing trigger points.
  • Penetrating sore muscles for a deeper massage.

Keep in mind, that heat therapy is best for sore muscles and shouldn’t be used for acute muscle injuries.

Choosing the best foam roller is a key step in reaping foam roller benefits. Combing heat with foam rolling will give you the best results and allow deep tension and trigger points to release and relax. Moji foam rollers combine the benefits of heat and foam rolling to improve blood circulation, reduce stress and help you get better sleep every day.

 

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 RollerHow to sleep better

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.

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