While it may seem like just another thing that your trainer is telling you to do, foam rolling is absolutely essential in your workout routine and offers a ton of benefit outside of the gym. Not only is foam rolling a self-massage at no cost, but it also primes your body for movement and helps your recovery process as well. Here's more.
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is technically called self-myofascial release, or SMR for short, in the fitness industry. Your muscles and organs are surrounded by connective tissue that holds them together called fascia, therefore, foam rolling is actually manipulating and massaging the fascia in your body.
Foam rolling is basically a deep tissue massage that you give yourself, by placing parts of your body on the foam roller and applying pressure, then moving in a slow or fast rolling motion or holding still. You are in charge of the pressure and can reduce or increase as needed by putting more or less of your weight on the roller.
Foam rollers are cylinders, typically made of compressed foam, but they can also be made out of harder plastic with knobs on them to make the massage even deeper. Foam rollers are pretty inexpensive and can usually be found at the gym in the stretching area, but you can also get one for yourself to have at home.
What does foam rolling do?
Foam rolling helps to take care of your body and muscles and does more than stretching alone. Not only does foam rolling help you to get greater range of motion in your workouts, but it also ensures that you have a better chance of staying injury and pain-free.
During rolling, when you find a tight spot, or a trigger point or knot, you stay on that area and hold it until it is slowly released — releasing these knots gets fluid moving throughout your body, aids in recovery, reduces injuries and increases mobility as well.
When should you foam roll?
You can foam roll before or after your workout, or even better, both.
Foam rolling directly before a workout helps you to improve your range of motion by working through any knots that may be inhibiting your full movement patterns. In addition, foam rolling before a workout is a great thing to include in your warm-up, because you get blood flowing to your muscles and turn them on, which means you have a better chance of activating the right muscles during your actual workout, thus getting more out of it.
Foam rolling after a workout is part of the cool-down and recovery process, and it can reduce muscle soreness and tightness overall, so that you can come back stronger to your next workout. When you spend time slowly rolling once you’ve finished your session, you give your body a chance to power down, and you also begin the healing process through massaging the tension or adhesions that may have come about during your workout in the muscles.
What parts of the body should you foam roll?
If you’re just getting started, you should begin by rolling the quads, hamstrings, calves, upper-back, IT bands (outside of the thigh) and piriformis (buttocks).
Before a workout, you can move a bit faster during the foam rolling, while holding pressure on the knots for about 30 seconds. Then, after your workout, you should move much slower across the muscles, also holding pressure on the knots for about 30 seconds. The foam rolling process only needs to take about 5 to 10 minutes, both before and after your workout.
But still, why should you foam roll?
If you’re on a mission to get healthier and fitter, then you want to make sure you’re giving your body the best chance possible to feel good and stay injury-free. Foam rolling truly takes care of your muscles and connective tissue and allows you to move better, recover smarter and give yourself a really helpful massage whenever you want it.
If you want some more tips on foam rolling or a trainer to help you get started, find a Fitness Together studio near you today, by visiting here: https://fitnesstogether.com/personal-trainers-near-me.