If you’ve been to the gym recently, you’ve probably seen black round cylinders resting in the corner of the stretching area. You also might have seen people in the stretching area rolling out on those cylinders. Or you may just see two people in that same area using the cylinders as stools and chatting after a workout (I did that earlier this week lol).
Those black cylinders are foam rollers and foam rolling is absolutely amazing!
Why should I foam roll?
Self-myofascial release, or foam rolling, is very similar to a deep tissue massage. Fascia is the connective tissue attached to muscles. By giving yourself a deep tissue (or deep fascia) massage, before and after a workout you can increase range of motion, blood circulation, alleviate muscle tightness, and remove knots and adhesions.
Before exercise, many of us do static stretches (holding a position for a several seconds), which is actually damaging. When you stretch a cold muscle, your body actually tightens up and you can’t maximize your range of motion. Foam rolling actually warms up your muscles by increasing blood flow and intramuscular temperature which helps increase flexibility.
Foam rolling after a workout or sitting for prolonged periods of time is also incredibly beneficial. When muscle fibers contract, the muscle fibers shorten, and increase tension in the muscle. When you’re seated at a desk for long periods of time or working a particular group of muscles, certain muscles are contracted and the opposing muscles are lengthened. Eventually, the contracted muscles will feel tight and the tightness will remain unless tension is decreased.
Foam rolling can help:
· Preventing injury
· Breaks of scar tissue
· Improves mobility and flexibility
· Removes lactic acid
Where do I get foam rollers??
You can find them on Amazon (of course), a super store like Target or Walmart, or any sporting good store in the equipment section. Feel free to try them out in the store (to the best of your ability.) You’re the one who’s going to buy it.
Which foam roller should I use?
“Now I’m in Modell’s and I have no idea which foam roller I should buy.”🤷🏽♀️
Foam rollers come in several different sizes, densities and textures.
When you are a beginner you want to start with the white low-density foam roller because you don’t want foam rolling to be too painful.
Eventually you can work your way up to the black foam roller, which is a higher density. Shorter foam rollers may be more preferable to longer to maintain better control and for travel purposes.
Once you’ve mastered the smooth textured foam rollers, you’re ready to upgrade to the textured foam rollers.The grid pattern is less aggressive than the foam roller with ridges. The ridges are designed to attack the trigger points and release the knots.
If you are too tense and willing to splurge you can try the vibrating foam roller with three different settings. This roller is similar to the black high-density foam roller and has a softer outer surface.
If you are looking for something you can use on the go, the travel stick is a favorite. You can apply as much pressure as you want and can you on anybody part.
How do I use my foam roller?
If you’ve never foam rolled before I have a secret to tell you. It’s going to be a bit uncomfortable, but you'll be fine. The key is to roll out each muscle group between 30 and 60 seconds.
1. Rolling directly where you feel pain
You want to roll out the entire muscle. For example: If you’re rolling the IT (iliiotibial band) roll the entire length from the knee to the hip. Only rolling one area doesn’t decrease tightness in the rest of the muscle.
2. Rolling too fast
You want to roll slowly in order to have the muscle relax. If you roll too fast you only target the superficial layers and won’t reach the deep tissue, which is the actual problem.
3. Rolling too much on the painful spot
If you find a knot you don’t want the muscle to tense up in reaction to rolling up and down on the knot. You just want to sit in the area for several seconds and maintain pressure. You don’t want to stay in one area too long because it can cause bruising, tissue damage and even nerve damage.
Click here to see different ways to roll out each muscle group.
So what's your favorite foam roller?
Drumrolll please!! My personal favorite is the……. tennis ball! I love it because it’s really effective on every muscle group (even the bottom of my feet)!. Unlike the foam roller with the ridges it’s really able to get all of the knots. Since it’s much smaller, I’m able to bring them on flights and make sure I don’t get to tense in areas like my back and my hamstring.
Alright foam rolling experts, get rolling and good luck with your next workout!