19 Mar What are the Benefits of Foam Rolling?
Tired of slow recovery, decreased flexibility and mobility, and sore or tight muscles after a tough workout? No worries, a foam roller might just be your saving grace. Foam rolling is myofascial release performed by you and is an acceptable substitute for a massage therapist’s hands.
Foam rollers are essentially like a rolling pin for your body — much like a rolling pin would roll out the imperfections in cookie dough, foam rollers do the same for your muscles and soft tissue.
As for the benefits of foam rolling, these relatively inexpensive tools can help break up knots and scar tissue that build up over time in athletes or those who exercise regularly and can help increase mobility, range of motion, help increase blood circulation, decrease muscle soreness, aid in any muscular imbalances, help you recover faster after your workout is complete, and may even improve your overall athletic performance. Not to mention it keeps the fascia –the bands of connective tissue found in muscles, organs and soft structures within your body– supple rather than rigid.
Foam rollers have also been proven to reduce instances of injury in athletes due to their ability to aid in recovery after a workout. Now, let’s look at that for a second, if athletes can recover faster and workout more often with less instances of injury, that could potentially lead to a (more than) positive effect on that athlete’s performance/career, right? Right.
Foam rolling can really be done at any time. Some experts recommend foam rolling as part of your warm-up and others recommend it as part of your cool-down; others say it can be done at any time. All you really need is 5-10 minutes and a handy, dandy roller. If you don’t have a foam roller, no worries, you can use a football, baseball, lacrosse ball, golf ball or a frozen water bottle as a substitute.
This is the part where you start to ponder purchasing a foam roller…foam rollers can be found at just about any sporting goods store or online and usually cost less than $20. They are available in three different densities — low, mid and high. The lower the density, the more forgiving the foam roller will be. So, for serious runners or athletes that workout frequently, a forgiving foam roller might not cut it when it comes to recovery.
It’s also important to mention you are in complete control of the amount of pressure placed on your body during foam rolling. Obviously, some parts of that fit body of yours are going to need a little more tough love than others, if you know what I mean. If you find a sore spot or a spot that is super tight while foam rolling, hold the roller in that spot for 30 seconds. Just hold it and let that area release. It might hurt a little bit at that moment (don’t forget to relax) but believe me, your body will thank you later by recovering faster.
Foam rollers allow you to target pretty much any muscle group and just about any area of the body from your back, to your quads, to your calves. These little miracle workers are even able to target some areas of the body that are super hard to reach, like for instance the piriformis muscle, which is a small muscle located deep in your glutes that causes runners and other athletes strife from time to time. Interestingly enough, this is the muscle that the sciatic nerve runs through.
So with all of this newfound knowledge about foam rollers, go forth, foam roll and prosper fit family