Have you heard about foam rolling? Chances are if you’ve spent much time in a gym or training facility you’ve seen someone using a foam roller. And it’s no surprise why: foam rolling has some incredible benefits that can help you train harder while reducing injury.
As beneficial as foam rolling is, it can also seem intimidating. What are foam rollers? Why do people use them? How do you make sense of the different foam roller lengths, widths, consistencies, and colors?
Foam rolling can be a valuable part of your Get Fit 21 experience. Here’s everything you need to know to get started and make the most of this unique and beneficial practice.
What Is Foam Rolling
Foam rolling (also known as self-myofascial release or SMR) is a form of self-massage. The goal is to use foam rolling equipment to release trigger points throughout your body. Applying a foam roller to different muscles in your body helps to correct imbalances. Foam rolling returns your muscles to their normal function, helping them stay healthy and perform at their best.
So what are trigger points? They are knots (areas where muscle fibers stick together) that can form throughout your body. Knots vary in size and often feel painful when pressure is applied. You may experience knots for a number of reasons, including stress, training, overuse, underuse, movement imbalances, and injuries.
How Does Foam Rolling Help?
If you have knots, you need a way to break them up. That’s exactly what foam rolling does. Through this form of self massage, you release the trigger points that are slowing you down. This process also increases blood flow throughout your body, which helps to reduce muscle tension, increase your range of motion, and put you in a better position to improve your performance.
Regular foam rolling can help decrease your chance of injury while training. It can also help to reduce the amount of time you need to recover after you work out. This means you can train longer and harder, and see the results you want more quickly.
How Do You Foam Roll?
Proper foam rolling involves applying a moderate amount of pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group. Settle the part of your body that requires rolling over your roller, allowing your body weight to provide the pressure. Then, roll slowly and gradually over the roller, moving no faster than one inch per second. Take your time, spending about 30-60 seconds per muscle.
When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds while relaxing as much as you can. Breathe slowly and deeply as you relax, and you should start to feel the muscle releasing. If it is too painful to apply pressure in a certain area, move the roller to a nearby muscle and ease into the spot.
Foam rolling can be a great addition to your workout, both as a warmup and cool down. Rolling as a warmup helps increase circulation and release tension in your muscles. As part of a cool down, it improves circulation and helps increase oxygen supply to your muscles. This helps begin the healing process and reduce soreness.
Keep in mind: these instructions are very general. Talk to your coach for more in depth information on how to use foam rolling for your specific needs.
Your Next Steps
Foam rolling can be a helpful part of your next workout. Invest in a roller for yourself, or try one at the gym. Add a five minute rolling routine to your workout, and increase from there once you’re comfortable with the basics. Happy rolling!