You may have seen people using them at the gym or pass by them in the fitness section of your favorite department store: foam rollers. They’re a simple yet highly effective piece of fitness equipment that can be used for both exercise and recovery. Foam rollers come in a variety of styles, but one factor remains: this simple foam cylinder can transform your recovery time and fitness goals.
Foam rolling is used for something called myofascial release. Myo means muscles and fascia are fibers that run throughout our bodies and essentially hold our muscles together. These fibers can hold tension and when they do, our muscles, ligaments, and joints are all affected. Using only your body weight against the foam roller, you can release built-up tension and also improve flexibility. Take, for example, an often tight part of our bodies, the iliotibial (IT) band. This tendon runs from our glutes to our knees on the outside of our thighs. Runners are often familiar with this area as it is often a source of tension and pain. A tight IT band can affect your glutes, quads, and knees; and a foam roller can help relieve that tension.
5 Benefits of Foam Rolling
Foam rolling on a regular basis can help with the following:
1. Relieve muscle soreness.
2. Relax tension.
3. Improve flexibility.
4. Improve blood flow to muscles.
5. Increase flexibility.
Sore muscles, tension, even inflexibility can all be improved with regular use of a foam roller. It will hurt, and you do want to be mindful of overdoing it; while the act of rolling over tight or sore areas will inherently cause some discomfort, too much pain will have the opposite effect, and may further irritation rather than bring about healing. So technique and time are key factors in a successful foam rolling experience. You shouldn’t foam roll any one area for more than 60 seconds, and any particularly tense knot or sore area for 20 seconds.
Foam rollers can be great for stretching as well as fitness. A foam roller can be integrated into yoga, pilates, even strength training exercises. This simple device also comes in different densities, for more or less intense pressure during self-massage. While you might only think of foam rolling after your workout, it’s actually a good idea to warm up using a foam roller. This will help prepare your muscles for the workout to come. However or whenever you foam roll, you are doing more than just easing tension; you are repairing and rebuilding muscle, and doing more to improve your fitness goals.