This practice has quickly been gaining popularity over the last decade, and for good reason. Today, nearly every gym or training facility will contain a variety of foam rollers of different lengths, consistencies, and colors.
Foam rolling (AKA SMR or self-myofascial release) has some serious benefits that can help you train harder while reducing injury. So here is the what, why, and how of foam rolling.
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a technique used as a form of self-massage to release trigger points. By applying a foam roller to different muscles on your body you are able to help in correcting muscle imbalances, returning them to normal function – where your muscles are healthy and ready to perform.
Trigger points otherwise knowns as “knots” form in muscles. Knots can range in size and will often feel painful when pressure is applied. They can often develop because of stress, training, overuse, underuse, movement imbalances, and injuries.
Why do people foam roll?
Foam rolling helps break up muscle knots. This can increase blood flow throughout the body, which helps to release unwanted muscle tension, increase range of motion, and ultimately, enhance performance.
Foam rolling can also decrease the chance of injury as well as the amount of recovery time after a workout. As a result you will be able to train longer and harder and results can come quicker.
How to Foam Roll
To foam roll properly, apply moderate pressure to a specific muscle or muscle group using the roller and your bodyweight. You should roll slowly and gradually, no more than one inch per second. When you find areas that are tight or painful, pause for several seconds and relax as much as possible, breathing slowly and deeply. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing. Continue for about 30-60 seconds per muscle.
If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, move the roller on to the surrounding area and gradually apply pressure, easing into the spot until the tenderness begins to subside.
Foam rolling can be done in partnership with your workout, both as a warm-up and as part of the cool down. When part of the warm-up, it should be the first thing done. This helps with circulation and reducing tension in muscles. When part of a cool down, it helps with circulation and allows the blood that has pooled in the working muscles to flow easily, allowing oxygen to come in and begin the healing process and prevent muscle soreness.
Foam rolling also doesn’t have to be done as part of a workout. My personal favorite time to foam roll is during my bedtime routine. I take 10-15 minutes to roll out my major muscles. This helps stimulate my parasympathetic system and helps my body and mind fall asleep faster, all while helping my muscles recover and reducing tightness I’ve built throughout the day.
So, whether it’s before or after a workout, or part of a bedtime routine, a few minutes of foam rolling a day can help you stay active and pain free and keep you feeling young for years to come.
This article was written by Coach Kristina!