Have you ever been to the stretch area of your gym and noticed a circular piece of foam just sitting there? We also have! Most people don’t realize that they don’t have to spend thousands of dollars with a massage therapist or personal trainer to get a good deep tissue massage. Today we’re looking into what a foam roller is, how to use it, and why it’s beneficial for your exercise routine!
What is rolling foam?
Foam rolling is a self myofascial release technique used to relieve muscle pain, relieve muscle soreness, and increase blood flow. The fascia is a connective tissue that makes up the soft tissue in the human body. It wraps around muscles and internal organs to separate and stabilize them. Usually the fascia is great at doing its job, but sometimes it can tighten around the muscles and create knots in the muscle tissue, also known as trigger points or adhesions. This is where self myofascial liberation comes into play.
Self-myofascial release is the term used in physiotherapy to describe foam rolling. It basically means massaging your own fascia tissue yourself to relieve stress in the fascia and relieve sore muscles. Using a foam roller or muscle roller is an easy way to do this self-massage without seeing a physical therapist. With foam rolling, body weight is used to generate direct pressure on the “knots”
What are the advantages?
Rolling is beneficial before and after your workout, although people have different preferences as to when to roll. Foam rolling before a workout can help decrease muscle density and allow for a better warm-up. Rolling after exercise can aid in recovery from sore muscles after strenuous exercise. There’s really no wrong time to do this thing – just make sure you do it! Other benefits of self myofascial release are:
- Improving the freedom of movement of the joints
- Relief from sore muscles and joint stress
- Help in maintaining functional muscle length
There is also evidence that foam rollers can help relieve chronic pain. Most people experience chronic pain following an injury or a medical condition. Chronic pain is linked to signals emanating from the nervous system, and studies have shown that foam rolling is positive Benefits for your nervous system. Foam rollers can also help treat trigger points that can cause chronic pain, which is why many physical therapists recommend it frequently.
The roller is a foam cylinder and is available in different sizes. Most often in the gym, what appears to be a longer roller that is 36 inches in size and 6 inches in diameter. The density of the foam can also vary. If you are unfamiliar with foam rollers or have particularly tight muscles or trigger points, opt for a softer foam roller. Typically, white rollers are softer, while blue or black rollers tend to be firmer. So, if you’re not sure which pressure to start with, we recommend trying a white roller first.
Foam rollers are not to be confused with muscle rollers, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably for both things. Muscle rollers are also called muscle roller pins, which is a helpful way to distinguish the two. Muscle roller sticks are long and thin, with handles on either end and a flexible rubber or plastic roller section in the middle. Unlike muscle roller sticks, foam rollers are large, thick foam cylinders without handles. While both foam rollers and muscle roller pens help your muscles roll – that’s where the muscle roll confusion comes from! – Muscle rollers are more specific and targeted than foam rollers.
Additionally, foam rollers are far more common in a gym than muscle roller sticks. That’s why we wanted to share all of the information you need to know to try one!
If you don’t have a foam roller, you can also use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball for self-massage. You won’t be able to hit large areas like your lower back, but you can still apply pressure on nodes and trigger points. We’d recommend a tennis ball over a lacrosse ball as we like the extra give, but you can use whatever suits your needs! The best foam roller is what you think will give the best results.
Important points for foam rolling
Rolling can be effective for many muscles including the calves, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors, latissimus dorsi, and the thoracic spine. There is no particular order in which you have to lather the roll. You can do what works best for you. Place the foam roller under each muscle group and roll with long strokes for 60 seconds until a sensitive area is found. Once a lump is found, hold pressure on the lump or trigger point for 30 to 60 seconds by moving back and forth across that surface. For example, start by rolling your leg muscles and continue rolling the calf muscles for 30 to 60 seconds once you’ve found a point of tension, such as a point of tension. B. in your calves.
Next, do a stretch for each muscle group you just rolled for maximum benefit.
Tips for rolling foam
- Sometimes it hurts so good! Sometimes things like foam rollers are a little uncomfortable and that’s fine. Stick to it!
- Spend at least a minute per area if using a foam roller to make sure you get an impact.
- Find a friend who will hold you accountable for post-workout foam rolling. Think of it as your new cool down!
Simple foam roller routine
Try these simple foam roller exercises and stretch yourself into areas that almost anyone could use a little self-massage love: the upper back and leg muscles including glutes and thighs.
Foam roller: thoracic spine (upper back)
- Start with the foam roller under your shoulder blades.
- Place your hands behind your head for support or cross your arms across your chest.
- Lift your hips slightly off the floor and hold a slight curve in your lower back (almost like doing a little crunch).
- Press forward and backward with your feet to roll out your upper back and roll from your shoulder blades to the center of your back.
Stretching: four-legged cat / cow
- Start on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position.
- Inhale and raise your chin and tailbone towards the sky, creating an arch in your back.
- Exhale and tuck your chin and tailbone toward the floor to round your spine.
Foam roller: glutes
- This stretch pairing is great for your leg muscles. First, sit on the foam roller, knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Shift slightly to put your weight on your right leg and start rolling up and down the length of your buttocks on the side of your right leg. Do not switch from one side to the other. Instead, switch sides as soon as a side is done.
- If you want, you can shift the focus of this exercise to your IT band. Instead of placing the roller under your glutes, move it so you are on your side and hold the roller under your IT tape. Then roll just above your knee and work your way up to your waist to make sure you get all of the IT tape.
Stretch: knees in the supine position up to the chest
- Lie on your back and pull both knees into your chest.
- Keep your head and shoulders on the floor
Foam roller: quadriceps
- Start with the foam roller under the quadriceps (front of the thighs).
- Lift your legs slightly off the floor and place the weight of your upper body on your forearms.
- Press with your arms to roll out the quadriceps by moving back and forth from the pelvic bone to the knee. Keep your left and right legs evenly so that you are rolling the leg muscles at the same time.
Stretch: Standing quadriceps stretch
- Stand on your left leg and bring your right foot towards your buttocks.
- Grab your right foot with your right hand, keeping your knee toward the floor and your legs close together.
- Switch sides.