Do you know what no fun is for an athlete? Getting injured and having to scale back or stop the exercise routine altogether! For people who love to be physically active, it’s often easier to keep pushing yourself than it is to slow down and focus on recovery.

Fortunately, there’s a happy middle ground between burning yourself out or taking a lot of days off between workouts. You can go hard with your exercise and then use lacrosse balls and foam rollers to promote mobility, flexibility, and looseness in your muscles.

Why You Need Recovery

If you’re grumbling at the thought of doing any “recovery” work, here’s a reminder about why it’s so important: Whether you’re running a few miles or hitting the squat rack, you’re actively stressing your body and breaking down your muscles.

The reason you get stronger is that your body gets convinced it didn’t have strong enough muscles to accommodate your workout. This means the most important part of any exercise routine is the time and effort you spend to build your muscles back up to full strength – and then some!

Compared to passive recovery like rest, you can speed things up with active recovery using foam rollers or lacrosse balls (like this Victorem lacrosse ball). Here are some recovery exercises that can help!

5 Recovery Exercises

1) Quads

Your quads are big enough that it makes sense to use a foam roller for them – unless you have a very specific spot that’s bugging you. To do the quad recovery exercise, get into a pushup position with the roller under your thighs and above the knees.

Use your arms to push yourself back, which will slide the roller up your body toward your hips. Go slowly. Once the roller is just about near your waist, switch directions, and pay extra attention to any tense areas you find. Each of these laps should take no more than about 45 seconds.

quads

2) Calves

Calves are another large muscle that gets used in everything from running to standing barbell curls! You can use a roller or lacrosse ball for this muscle, depending on how much tension you have.

Start in a seat position facing forward, then lean back with your arms supporting you and place the roller under your calf right below the knee. You can roll by lifting your upper body and propelling your leg forward and back over the roller.

3) Glutes

With all the time people spend sitting and standing, you’re bound to have plenty of stress in your glutes. It’s also a key part of virtually every compound movement in the gym, so you may want to go for a ball on this one.

Put the lacrosse ball underneath your bottom, starting at the outside of the glutes at first. Move forward and backward over the ball, paying special attention to any knots you find until they are relaxed.

Glutes

4) Shoulders

Shoulders are another spot that holds a lot of tension, especially if your posture isn’t the best. To get started, simply stand up and place the lacrosse ball between your shoulder and a wall.

While making sure the ball stays in the same place, move your arm up, down, and out. You’re able to give yourself a much-needed shoulder massage this way!

Shoulders

5) Back

The quickest DIY back massage is with a ball between your back and a chair. Then, you can rotate the ball by moving your back against it to soothe those muscles and relax any knots. Don’t forget to keep breathing!

FAQs

Do foam rollers help recovery?

They certainly can! Used properly, foam rollers and lacrosse balls can increase your circulation, improve your flexibility, and reduce soreness and stiffness from heavy workouts.

Is it bad to foam roll after a workout?

Not at all! Foam rolling actually triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which will provide a relaxing effect to counteract all of the stress caused by an intense workout. Of course, many people don’t have time to do this right after a workout – so 10-15 minutes before going to bed is a great time for foam rolling.

What does rolling on a lacrosse ball do?

It loosens up specific parts of the body, applying more targeted pressure than a foam roller can.

Can I use a tennis ball as a foam roller?

A ball is better for targeting more specific parts of the body, while broader muscle groups like quads and glutes are best for foam rollers. With that said, lacrosse balls are firmer, but if you don’t have one laying around, a tennis ball is a good substitute!

Recovery exercises with lacrosse balls and foam rollers – Wrap-up

Hopefully, these recovery exercises give you the help you need to get back to the gym, the court, or the trail.

Just remember not to overdo them either – ease into these movements and don’t do more than 5 minutes or so. That should be plenty to help your body recover between exercise days!

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