You've seen those Styrofoam cylinders in the gym, maybe wondered what the heck they really do, or maybe you've even tried rolling around on them for a few minutes, then put it back in its place, never to pick it up again. Well, you might want to reconsider that decision as foam rolling JUST may be the answer your aching muscles have been looking for.
Here's a simple (but hopefully informative) breakdown of foam rolling:
WHY TO DO IT
There are a few good reasons for foam rolling. One is simply that massaging our muscle helps warm them up and keep them pliable. In addition, our muscles are covered with a thin tissue called FASCIA which can sometimes get bunched up (we often refer to these bunches as KNOTS) and by foam rolling, you can spread out that tissue to help restore full range of motion to any affected areas. Foam rolling also helps to increase blood flow to the areas you are working on which can speed recovery and may even reduce muscle soreness between workouts.
HOW TO DO IT
Only roll on your muscles, NEVER over a joint.
When you feel an area that is incredibly sore, stop, apply some more of your bodyweight to that area to try to feel it "release", then continue working other areas.
Don't overdo it...only spend 20-30 seconds on each body part
If you are incredibly sore, extra rolling is not recommended, instead, do a few LIGHT rolling sessions to help ease overall pain.
You will be using only your bodyweight when foam rolling so make sure your positions allow you to reduce the amount of weight each muscle must endure. Too much weight applied in one area can actually do more harm than good.
WHEN TO DO IT
Foam rolling can act as a warmup routine and can work wonders in place of stretching. In addition, it always acts as a fantastic workout FINISHER and rolling post workout has been shown to reduce soreness in the hours and days the follow an intense workout. It is also great in helping to lower your heart rate and relax you as well. In this way, foam rolling can also be used as an effective stress reliever throughout your days as well. (again, don't overdo it, light or gentle foam rolling works best for these types of sessions)
As you may have seen, foam rollers come in a variety of shapes and hardness levels. It is recommended to begin foam rolling with a roller that is on the softer side and once you have become accustomed to rolling, graduate to a harder one for stubborn body parts. There are a variety of videos on YouTube that demonstrate full body rolling sessions and with a little practice, you can effectively roll your entire body in just a few minutes. So, go ahead and grab one for yourself, and you just may discover a whole new world of relaxation, flexibility, and workout recovery...just ROLL WITH IT baby!