Regular exercise will improve your strength, flexibility, endurance, and overall fitness. Over time, we learned to develop new tools to help us work out certain areas that we want to work on. For example, we created dumbbells and barbells to build arm and upper body muscles.
Most fitness enthusiasts are aware of the “tools of the trade” and products that are out there for exercising and building muscle, such as the Hydrow Rower or the Treadly 2, but many people are lacking a proper recovery routine. Giving your muscles time to recover is just as important as working out in the first place.
In this article, we are going to look at an increasingly popular workout recovery practice known as foam rolling. What is foam rolling? How does it work? And, what are the benefits of foam rolling?
Keep reading to learn more!
What Is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling is simply a self-massage technique using, well, a foam roller. Foam rolling is mainly used to help relieve soreness, muscle tightness, and possible inflammation. It can also help you improve your mobility and range of motion.
Since foam rolling is mainly used to relieve muscle tightness and soreness, foam rolling is mainly done as a warm-up or cool down rather than as part of the actual exercise, however, it can be used basically as how you see it fit for you.
Benefits Of Foam Rolling
Here are some of the benefits that you can get if you do foam rolling or add it to your workout routine:
1) Relieve Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness can limit your exertion during workouts. This is why it is important to relieve your muscles before and after the workout so that you can perform more and better during your workouts.
Foam rolling lessens muscle soreness by breaking up scar tissues that are built up in your muscle from intense muscle exertion, injuries, and even from inactivity over a relatively long period of time.
Foam rolling also increases blood flow to your muscle, giving it the necessary nutrients and oxygen to help you perform more during your workouts.
Finally, foam rolling helps limit or even eliminate too much production of lactic acid in your muscles. This gives you more power to perform muscle-intensive exercises.
2) Increase Your Mobility And Range Of Motion
Aside from helping you relieve muscle soreness, foam rolling also helps you increase your muscle’s mobility and range of motion.
Poor mobility and shortened or limited range of motion cause pain or muscle fatigue once you reach its “limit”. This limits your overall physical exertion, limiting your exercise and, to some extent or it got worsened (usually with age), even limit some of your normal daily movements.
Poor mobility and shortened range of motion is normally caused simply by physical inactivity (although certain physical conditions and simply aging are potential factors, too), so regular exercise is very important to keep your muscles flexible. To further enhance muscle flexibility and mobility, foam rolling can help you with it.
Because foam rolling breaks up scar tissues that were built in your muscles due to inactivity (or over-exertion), this allows your muscle to stretch more again. In turn, this gives your muscles an increased range of motion.
3) Temporarily Reduces Your Cellulite
Fascia is our body’s tissues that contribute to the development of cellulite. According to some foam roller sellers, foam rolling (and their foam rollers) can loosen up your fascia. Whether foam rollers can loosen up fascia or not is not yet verified, but foam rolling may temporarily smooth your skin out – but not permanently.
Although foam rolling can help you reduce your cellulite, the best way to reduce cellulite is still to work out regularly, eat a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
4) Can Prevent Muscle Injury
Poor mobility and shortened or limited range of motion, as mentioned above, can cause muscle fatigue or even pain once you stretch it within its “limit”. If the muscles get too fatigued due to constant pressure from stretching, it can cause injury. Poor mobility may also cause your muscle to tolerate less load on it – trying to lift more than that can cause early fatigue or injury.
Foam rolling can help prevent muscle injury by helping your muscles stretch more. As the muscle learns to stretch more, it can tolerate heavier loads and can overall perform better in physical exercises. This prevents or lessens potential injury from your workout or any physically-demanding activities.
5) Can Relieve Back Pain
Foam rolling is beneficial for relaxing your overall muscles. It can even ease overall pain in the body – and back pain is no exception.
To apply foam rolling for back pain, turn your foam roller in a vertical position and align your spine to it. Then, slowly roll the roller on each side, still sticking within your spine.
There are many ways to do foam rolling for back pain and the method above is not necessarily the best, but vertical foam rolling is usually better than horizontal foam rolling because you can arch your spine and back if your foam rolled horizontally.
Nevertheless, if you’ll foam roll for your back – vertical or horizontal – take caution to avoid possible straining or even injuring your back.
6) Helps Improve Muscular Posture
If we are not careful, we can develop poor posture – and in fact, many people do indeed have poor posture.
Aside from regular exercise and simply applying posture to your body, foam rolling can help improve your posture by helping it gain more mobility and range of motion as mentioned earlier. As our muscles gain more mobility and function, their posture will naturally correct itself.
7) Increases Muscular Performance
As mentioned above, improved mobility and a wider range of motion – which foam rolling can help you achieve – can help your muscle tolerate heavier loads. As a result, your muscle will naturally increase their strength, power, and overall performance.
8) Can Help You Relax
There are many ways to relax, and foam rolling can be one of them. Different people have different ways of relaxing. While some find relaxation through workouts, some find relaxation through reading books, listening to music, taking a walk, or spending time with his or her loved ones or romantic partner.
If you tried foam rolling out and it helped you relax, then you may want to do it often. If not, it doesn’t hurt; it’s still a beneficial activity after all! Just try it out and find it out for yourself.
How To Foam Roll
There are actually quite a variety of ways to perform foam rolling, but for this one, we will assume that you are just new to foam rolling. For starters, here are some of the things to do to get started with foam rolling:
- Start with light pressure and see how it works for you. For some, foam rolling could be painful if your muscles are too tight, but don’t worry about that, foam rolling will help you with that as you continually do it and add little pressure over time.
- Start by slowly rolling over tender areas for only 10 seconds, but as you get used to it, you can roll for 30 seconds to a full minute.
- Drink water after foam rolling to help you recover fast.
Once you get used to foam rolling, you can opt to learn different foam rolling moves to get the most of it!
Recommended Foam Roller Brands
If you are shopping for a foam roller, here are some of the brands that you may want to check out:
1) Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller
Trigger Point is the best choice if you want to work on your knots with different surfaces. It is also priced in relatively mid-range: $34.95GET THE BEST PRICE ON TRIGGER POINT PERFORMANCE GRID FOAM ROLLER
2) LuxFit Foam Roller
LuxFit is a simple foam roller that can nevertheless give your muscles relief and get the best of foam rolling. But what’s better? It’s the least experienced in the list: $13.66!GET THE BEST PRICE ON LUXFIT FOAM ROLLER
3) Tiger Tail Original Massage Stick
Tiger Tail works best for smaller gym bags as it is less spacious compared to regular foam rollers. Price: $34.95GET THE BEST PRICE ON TIGER TAIL ORIGINAL MASSAGE STICK
4) TB12 Vibrating Pliability Roller
TB12 Vibrating Pliability Roller is a good choice for very active people. This foam roller has four different vibration settings to add up to your foam rolling experience. But of course, if you add fancy technology such as vibration tech to a rather simple foam roller, expect a quite high price: only $160!GET THE BEST PRICE ON TB12 VIBRATING PLIABILITY ROLLER
5) Hyperice Viper 2.0 Vibrating Fitness Roller
If your muscle is really aching and regular foam rollers don’t help (plus you need some vibrating tech), then consider Hyperice Viper 2.0 Vibrating Fitness Roller! This foam roller has some of the coolest features on this list such as its vibrating settings. However, this is unsurprisingly the most expensive: priced at a whopping $200! (okay, only $199.99 to be exact.)GET THE BEST PRICE ON HYPERICE VIPER 2.0 VIBRATING FITNESS ROLLER
Final Verdict: Foam Rolling Is Great For Everyone
Foam rolling might sound like it’s just for athletes, but it’s great for anyone, even if you don’t work out or exercise. It can help loosen up your muscles as well as help you relax, despite how much you exercise.
Foam rollers are also relatively affordable, making them a great gift for your friends and family as well.