Foam rolling is a method of self-myofascial release. Rollers come in different sizes and degrees of firmness, depending on your needs. Myofascial release is applying gentle sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. Fascia are collagen fibers that cover almost every part of your body, including muscles. If the fascia becomes too tight, it can cause soreness or even injuries. That's where a foam roller comes in. You use your own body weight to roll yourself across it, working to loosen the fascia as you roll over various muscle groups.
Foam rollers have become all the rage for recovering athletes. With proper use, foam rolling has been proven to aid in muscle healing. This handy tool can do a lot more than provide relief to overworked muscles. Here are three unique ways to get the most out of your foam rollers.
Increases Range of Motion
A small study conducted in 2015 showed that static stretching paired with foam rolling helped increase an athlete's range of motion. This means you are less likely to injure yourself or overwork a muscle!
Helps You Relax
Have your muscles been aching? Even casual athletes can benefit from using a foam roller once a day. Foam rolling can help relieve tension and loosen tight muscles by forcing your facsia to stretch. Healthy facsia is essential for good muscle development.
Great for Warming Up and Cooling Down
Foam rolling before and after a workout is a great way to take care of your muscles. In both cases, the ridges help stimulate blood flow and muscle healing.
While a foam roller might seem pretty intuitive to use, here are a couple things to remember:
Don't roll directly on the injured area
Rolling directly over the affected area can cause more inflammation and irritation. You want to work the muscles/ fascia around the injury to loosen the area up. Picture yourself slowly rolling out and away from the injured area.
Take your time
In order for foam rolling to effectively loosen up the fascia, it must be done slowly. We'll use your hamstrings as an example. When foam rolling your hamstrings, start with your right leg. Sit on the foam roller with both feet straight out in front of you, and brace yourself with your hands planted firmly behind you. Place the foam roller under your right buttock and slowly roll downward to the back of your knee, and then back up to your buttocks. Each roll in one direction should take about 10-15 seconds. Roll up and down a few times, then switch to your other leg.
When foam rolling, you should feel slight discomfort as you roll over your muscles, but never intense or sharp pain.
Keep it moving
You need to slowly keep moving when using a roller and not get stuck on one spot. Holding a position for 10 to 15 minutes will not help you heal, it can irritate your nerves further and delay any healing you might be getting otherwise. Focus on a specific area for one to two minutes and then move on.