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5 Hot Spots to Roll Out Before Every Workout

Roll with It

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Foam rollers are excellent, inexpensive tools that can be used both for warm-up and recovery. Studies have shown that foam rolling (also known as self-myofascial release) can help reduce stiffness and pain, and improve your range of motion (read: your performance) during a workout. Think of it like this: When you first grab a pair of jeans out of the dryer and put them on, they are super stiff and hard to move in, so you do your squatting ritual to help "break them in" and fit comfortably again. Utilizing a foam roller can help loosen up your stiff, sore muscles so you can move comfortably and efficiently.

But you have to know how to use one in order to feel those benefits. Max out the results of your next gym session by rolling out these commonly tight or sore spots beforehand. For the video of this workout, click here.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Lats

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Lie on right side with the foam roller positioned under armpit. Slowly roll up and down and forward and back, holding pressure on tight spots for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat on left side.

RELATED: The Sexy Back Workout: 8 Moves to Banish Bra Bulge

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Calves

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Sit with legs extended, right leg resting on the foam roller, left leg crossed over top, and hands positioned behind hips. Slowly lift hips off the floor and begin rolling up right leg, traveling from bottom of calf muscle to just below back of knee and holding pressure on tight spots for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Glutes and Piriformis

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Sit on top of the foam roller with right foot resting above left knee, right knee open to the side, and hands on the floor behind you. Lean slightly into right hip and roll forward and back and side-to-side, holding pressure on tight spots for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat on left leg. (This can help relieve muscular tension that can make the IT band feel tight.) [Tweet this exercise!]

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Quads

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Lie facedown with the foam roller just above knees. Prop body up on forearms and slowly move forward, rolling up thighs to just below hip bones. Turn toes in and out to hit different areas of the quadriceps muscles, holding pressure on tight spots for 30 to 90 seconds.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Thoracic Spine

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Lie faceup with the foam roller underneath upper back. Cross hands over over chest and bend knees, placing feet hip-width apart on the floor. Use legs to gently roll from upper to mid back, holding pressure on tight spots for 30 to 90 seconds. (Those with back pain or spinal issues may want to avoid this exercise or proceed with extra caution.)

RELATED: 8 Stretches That Make You Stronger

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography

Bonus: Relaxation Exercise

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Placing head on the foam roller like it's a pillow. Gently move head back and forth as if shaking "no" in slow motion.

Photo: Vanessa Rogers Photography