Decoding wacky gym equipment, one piece at a time

By Lauren Mazzo
Updated: September 21, 2016

Foam rollers are a godsend for tight, sore muscles. (That hurts-so-good feeling is unlike any other.) But not all are created equal; you've probably seen one of those aggressively bumpy foam rollers and thought: "Hell no-that's not going anywhere near my painfully sore quads."

We have the scoop on how to use these rumble-y rollers, courtesy of Equinox trainer Rachel Mariotti and our WTF Workout Equipment series. (She also gave tips on how to use a ViPR, balance board, and Pilates Ring.) Good news: if you're super sore, step away from the bumpy foam roller, and reach for a smooth one instead. When your muscles are extremely tender and inflamed, the bumps-which get deeper into muscle tissue than a regular smooth roller-will be too intense.

Mariotti gives three moves that you can use pre-workout as a warm-up, post-workout for a cool-down, or when your body is in recovery mode.

Roll out your glutes

A.Sit on foam roller with hands on the floor behind you and feet flat on the floor. Cross right leg over left leg, and shift weight onto left glute.

B.Slowly roll back and forth to massage the muscle. Try tilting side to side on the left glute to hit different parts of the muscle.

Massage your lower back

A. Lay face up on foam roller with feet flat on floor and arms crossed over chest.

B. Keeping core engaged, roll back and forth to massage the lower and middle back.

Roll out your quads

A. Lay face down with the foam roller beneath the quads. Prop upper body on elbows on the floor, and keep core tight and lifted off the ground.

B. Roll back and forth with elbows stationary on the floor. Adjust positioning to massage different parts of the muscle. Try rolling one leg at a time to put even more pressure on the muscle.

Want even more foam rolling tips? Here's your beginners guide on How to Use a Foam Roller, as well as 5 Hot Spots to Roll Out Before Every Workout.

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