Are your quads and hamstrings sore and achy from a brutal leg day?
Is your back tight from sleeping on a crummy mattress?
Do your neck and shoulders hurt from hunching over a computer at work all day long?
You’re probably thinking a massage sounds perfect right now, but you don’t really want to go spend $100/hour for some stranger to rub all over you while you have nothing separating you from them but a teeny, tiny towel.
Luckily, we’ve got the solution for you, and it’ll save you money and any potential embarrassment. It’s a simple as laying on the ground and “rolling.”
The answer to your prayers is… a Foam Roller!
What is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, which is a fancy way of saying self-massage to release trigger points (tight spots in your muscles). It can be accomplished using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, rolling pin, or PVC pipe!
So, how do we accomplish this? To understand how to foam roll effectively, you first have to understand a little bit about the human body.
Your muscles, organs, bones, nerves, etc. are covered by a network of soft tissue called fascia. Over time, the once smooth and flexible fascia can start to become inflexible and develop adhesions and scar tissue. This is a normal part of the body’s healing process whenever it tries to repair damaged area in the body.
For example, when you workout you are tearing apart muscle fibers and when your body starts to repair and rebuild new muscle, these adhesions can form. Over time, these adhesions accumulate into “trigger points” on the body and subsequently tightness and pain.
Foam rolling allows you to use your own bodyweight to apply pressure to these tight spots and stretch them out, a simple, yet effective, way to get some much needed relief!
What are some Foam Roller Benefits?
So now that we know what in the world foam rolling is, what can it do for me? Well…
Relieve pain and tightness
Foam rolling applies pressure to those tender areas and helps work out the adhesions that can lead to you feeling stiff
Ever feel “on edge” because you feel tense? Rolling improves circulation getting fresh blood and nutrients to the areas to the areas causing you discomfort
You’ll feel better for your next workout as you take care of those areas you just spent the past hour hammering in the weight room
Rolling smoothes out the fascia that can become tight and knotted up due to repeated used. This leads to more supple tissue surrounding the muscles enhancing your balance, coordination, and overall range of motion
Prevent future injuries
As you roll, you’ll become aware of tender spots on your body and know where to focus your efforts on so you can prevent tight muscles from turning into “trigger points”
Perhaps best of all, foam rollers are cheap compared to a masseuse. Rollers can be had for as cheap as $20, whereas a massage can go anywhere from $50-300/hour!
You can click here to browse the most popular rollers.
As you can see, foam rolling has a multitude of benefits aside from just working out some soreness from a rough day at the gym.
The Day After…
Ok, so you’ve done your due diligence and invested in a foam roller and spent some time pre and post workout rolling out the areas you just finished destroying. What should you expect…
You’re going to be sore!
You may be wondering if you did something wrong or why did you even do this in the first place?! It’s really rather simple…
You’ve just worked your body in a new way that it hasn’t experienced before, and (just like with a new workout), there’s going to be a period of adaptation. However, the more you do, the better you feel.
Make foam rolling a daily habit, and you will start to feel looser, less stressed, and better recovered. Remember to drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep and eat well, and your efforts will be greatly rewarded!
Whether your aches and pains come from working out, some sort of injury, or just work in general, you can reap the benefits of a full-body massage with foam rolling! You can use it anywhere on your body (just avoid bones and joints), but it’s especially effective on your back, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and IT band.
Try to incorporate foam rolling into your daily workout routine and you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using it sooner. Roll back and forth on the muscle group you’re targeting until you hit that “trigger spot” and settle on it for 30 seconds to a minute. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but breathe through the pain and wait for relief.
In no time at all you’ll progress from the soft, white foam roller to the treacherous (and our favorite) Rumble Roller. But we’ll get into those more next week when we go in detail about the various types of foam rollers and how to choose the appropriate one!
Update: Our article on how to choose the Best Foam Roller for you is now up!
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