The Skinny on Foam Rolling
If you’ve been in a
health club lately or have friends that work out, chances are that
you’ve seen or heard of foam rolling, but most of us get different
stories on what it does and the benefits it may bring. Some
people swear by it for sore muscles and others for mobility and
stretching purposes. So let’s take a look at foam rolling and what it is
used for, and the benefits of adding it to your routine.
Foam rolling is known in
more technical terms as self-myofascial release, or in more common
terms a type of self-massage of the muscles. Now while we are focused on
the foam roller, this can be done with a tennis ball or even a wide
piece of PVC pipe. The main use of foam rolling is to break up knots and
even scar tissue that may be in the muscles due to injury or overuse.
This will typically lead to better range of motion and better blood flow
to the area you’ve worked on. More blood flow will typically result in
shorter recovery time, which along with better range of motion will
decrease the likelihood of injury. Now it should be noted that while
most will agree that foam rolling is not a pleasant experience, it does
not take a significant amount of time – 5 to 10 minutes is all you need
to start seeing real benefits. Typically we would suggest doing so at
the end of your workout along with your normal stretches.
The trick to proper foam
rolling is to use your body weight to apply pressure to area you’re
targeting. For example to focus on your calves start by placing one leg
on the foam roller, then place the other leg on top of it. Slowly raise
your hips and begin to roll your calf down till the roller reaches your
knee. If there is a particularly tender area hold that spot few a few
extra seconds. Then you would repeat the roll 3 or 4 times before
switching legs. What’s great is that essentially you can use foam
rolling to target your entire body including your quads, hamstrings,
lats, lower back, and upper back. It can even be done daily to help
maintain the benefits.
So if you are looking
for an easy and cheap way to improve your performance and help recover
from those sore muscles faster, give foam rolling a try. A few minutes
of discomfort may be worth the benefits.