Why You Should Be Rolling With A Foam Roller
Making your way through the gym, you’ve likely come across a foam roller. Granted the brightly colored log may look out of place but it’s actually the missing piece to your pre- and post-exercise routine.
Why foam rollers?
Foam roller exercises (myofascial release) have grown in popularity, largely due to their effect on the fascia– a piece of white tissue beneath the skin that connects all parts of the body and holds it together. Similar to a sports massage, myofascial release occurs when one applies pressure to affected muscles in order to release tension.
Why does this happen? Overexertion of the muscles can take its toll on the fascia and this results in adhesions. Adhesions are muscle tissues that get together, leading to restricted, tense and sore muscles. Luckily, the massage-like technique of the myofascial release can cater to the sore, tense muscles.
Aside from reducing muscle aches associated with a strained fascia, the use of a foam roller can provide plenty of other benefits that are not limited to reduced inflammation and joint stress.
Improved flexibility and mobility
Tight muscles won’t only constrict your workout but they can also affect your daily movements outside of the gym, placing pressure on your joints and bones. While stretching has always been seen as the best way to prevent tight muscles, studies have begun to highlight how foam rollers can also play a role.
By foam rolling the affected area, one can reduce the pressure placed on the fascia, enhancing both their flexibility and mobility. This then allows for them to move much freely during both their workout and while performing their daily tasks.
Great cool down tool
Recovery is just as important as your workout because it gives your body a chance to repair and strengthen itself. Not performing recovery can greatly increase your risk of injury.
While there are plenty of tools that can be part of your recovery, foam rollers work quite well. By using foam rollers to massage your muscles after an intense workout, you’ll reduce soreness as well as prevent the formation of adhesions.
As mentioned, foam rollers help both prevent and reduce the adhesions, which are particularly responsible for injuries. Adhesions affect flexibility and weaken the muscles thus increasing the risk of injury.
Also, foam rolling increases blood circulation and if your muscles are getting enough blood and oxygen, then your risk of injury is much lower.
Using a foam roller
If investing in a foam roller for the first time, it’s important to start with a softer, smoother roller. A roller with a harder texture may cause pain and bruising so it’s best to ease into these types of rollers. It’ also important to use the foam roller slowly, so that it can properly ease up the tense muscles.
Once you have your roller of choice, if you’re not sure where to start, Dr. Axe provides his three favorite foam rolling exercises.
Foam roller exercises
- Hamstrings and glutes
When focusing on your hamstrings and glutes, Dr. Axe suggests that you first sit on the floor before placing the foam roller long ways underneath your legs. You then use your arms to support yourself and adjust how much pressure you are applying to your legs. The more body weight you transfer to your arms, the easier things will be on your hamstrings. Simply roll yourself along the roller from your glutes down to just above your knees. Again, spend about a minute here and make sure you’re not holding your breath.
Quadriceps are the front of your legs and they can often take strain.
To care for them, place the foam roller underneath your legs and with your body weight on your forearms. Then begin to roll yourself back and forth from the top of your knees to your pelvic bone. You will want to keep your abs engaged on this one and keep your feet off the floor as you’re rolling.
- Upper back
Most of us spend all day in front of a computer and this can take its toll on our upper backs. As a result, it’s important to engage in exercises that can loosen it up.
Place the foam roller perpendicular to your body and lean your upper back against it. Place your hands directly behind your head, lift your hips off the floor, and gently begin to roll from the top of your shoulder blades to the middle of your back.
Want to know more?
If you’re looking to better your recovery or prevent any form of injury before a workout, then a foam roller is an inexpensive tool that’s perfect for your gym bag. However if you’re not a fan of gym, click here for fun workouts you can do on the couch.