Foam rolling is often downplayed in the fitness world. Active recovery is can easily be overlooked if you are incorporating hard workouts on the daily. Self-massage with a foam roller is a simple and convenient way to reduce discomfort post-workout and speed up your recovery time. If sore muscles slow you down, using a foam roller to stretch after workouts can help you bounce back.
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique. It can help relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, and increase your joint range of motion.
You can get a foam roller at almost any sports store, or even order one online. There are various options available. Pick yours based on what you are trying to achieve:
Smooth Rollers- are known for having a smooth, dense foam surface. They are best for people new to foam rolling. They offer even texture and aren’t as intense as a textured roller. This option is less expensive, too.
Textured Rollers- have ridges and knobs on them. They are used to work deeper into muscles, and work out knots and tension.
Foam covered massage sticks can be used to deeply massage your legs or upper back.
Foam massage balls can be used for targeted muscle areas. For example, to work out knots in shoulders.
When choosing a foam roller, you’ll also want to take the shape and size into consideration. A shorter roller is more effective for smaller areas like the arms and calves, for example. Shorter rollers are also are more portable if you plan to travel with your roller.
Here are some known benefits of foam rolling:
1)May help to ease sore muscles
2)May help to reduce the appearance of cellulite
3)Assists in range of motion
4)Provides relief from lower back pain
Start with light pressure and build up as you get used to foam rolling. You may find it painful to foam roll at first if your muscles are tight. To adjust pressure, reduce the amount of body weight you’re putting onto the roller. For example, if you’re rolling out your calf, use your arms to help support your body and take some of your body weight off of the roller.Slowly roll tender areas for 10 seconds to start, then work up to 30 to 60 seconds at a time.Drink plenty of water after foam rolling to help with recovery.In general, follow these tips to get started:
Stick to your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, traps, and lats. You can lightly roll the meat of your shoulders, but should avoid the actual joint. Same with your arms and elbows.For best results, follow a daily rolling strategy. After all, just like all things exercise, you have to be consistent to get the best results.
Aim to roll before and after workouts, or just any time you’re feeling tight.Foam rolling doesn't have to be a long process. Simply spend 30 seconds on each spot you want to roll. If you have more time to dedicate to it, you may do three sets of 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between, on each muscle group you’re trying to target.
Give each section a few passes, move onto the next one, and then after having hit each of them, polish things off by giving the entire length of your muscle some more love.At the end of the day, remember that just like any other workout recovery regimen, foam rolling should be used as a tool to help you feel better during and after workouts. That means that you can and should tweak your rolling habits to whatever works best for you.
So don’t stress about sticking to a strict schedule—start with rolling when you feel like you need it or simply when you have time, and take it from there depending on what feels right.