There are few things that live up to the noise of all the hype surrounding them. At first glance, foam rolling is not one of them.
After all, what can a weird-looking roller with bumpy things really do for your health? To the surprise of many, foam rolling can actually provide countless benefits to your physical and mental well-being.
In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which foam rolling can improve your health, as well as some tips and considerations to ensure you get the most from your rolling sessions.
What Is a Foam Roller?
A foam roller is basically a cylindrical piece of foam that may or may not have bumps or ridges on it. It is designed to be used in a variety of ways, but primarily as a self-massage tool.
More specifically, the technique of foam rolling is referred to as myofascial release, which involves moving soft tissue along the surface of the roller to elicit benefits that aren't very different from a deep tissue massage.
How Does Foam Rolling Work?
As mentioned above, foam rolling works on the principle of myofascial release. The fascia are connective tissues that surround the muscles, bones, and joints in the body.
These fasciae can become tight, stiff, and restricted due to physical activities or even certain postures.
When this happens, it can lead to a decrease in range of motion and pain. Foam rolling works by applying gentle but direct pressure in small circular movements across varying areas of the body with the foam roller.
This helps to release tension that has built up over time due to stress or other forms of physical activity. It is thought to be more effective than stretching alone because it releases tight knots in the muscles while also increasing circulation and improving overall elasticity.
The user's own body weight must be used when applying pressure, so the amount applied can be adjusted depending on individual preference and comfort level. Foam rolling should not cause significant pain, but instead a feeling of deep tissue massage or mild discomfort at worst.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
Now it's time for the juicy part- the real-life benefits of practicing foam rolling.
Better Range of Motion
Range of motion (ROM) is a measure of how far a particular joint — such as the shoulder or hip — can be flexed, extended, adducted, and abducted. It's important to have a full range of motion because it enables us to perform everyday activities with ease; without it, we'd be restricted in many areas of our lives.
Your range of motion isn't determined by solely your joints, however, as muscle, tendons, and even the presence of scar tissue all influence it.
Foam rollers are incredibly helpful tools that can improve our range of motion and allow us to become fitter and healthier overall since they allow us to work on more than one contributor to your overall ROM.
You can practice foam rolling on a daily basis if necessary, taking into consideration how frequently you exercise. It is beneficial and can do wonders over time.
You might be wondering how in the world a foam roller can help improve circulation. Surprisingly, it does.
When we roll along tight muscles, the tissues start to release tension and relax. This causes an increase in blood flow to the area, as well as oxygen delivery which is essential for healthy tissue repair.
The increased circulation also helps flush out metabolic waste products more efficiently and promotes the healing of the muscle.
Of course, there are also other major benefits of improved circulation, such as improved joint mobility, reduced inflammation, and better overall health.
Great For Warm-ups
Have you ever thought about using a foam roller to warm up your muscles? It's actually quite effective!
When we foam roll, the muscles become warm and flexible due to increased blood flow (circulation). This helps reduce stiffness in the joints and enhances your range of motion. It also helps prime your neuromuscular system for more dynamic movements, such as weightlifting.
It's important to keep in mind that foam rolling should never replace your traditional warmup routine; however, it can be used as an addition to get your body ready for the activity ahead.
We recommend incorporating area-specific warmups as part of the warm-up process as well, to ensure safety when performing the working sets.
Helps Reduce Scar Tissue
Following any sort of injury, healing ensues. Except that it doesn't always go according to plan.
This is due to the development of scar tissue, collections of dense, fibrous tissue that can limit the range of motion and even cause pain.
Scar tissue often forms during incomplete healing, or when the damage is extensive and complete regeneration isn't very likely.
Interestingly, scar tissue is primarily composed of the protein collagen, and usually occurs due to the body's overexpression during incomplete healing.
Foam rolling is an effective way to slowly break up this scar tissue, restoring normal function (as much as is possible) to the affected area over time.
Collagen should not be regarded as bad, however, as it is a critical part of recovery and the structural integrity of many units in a healthy body.
Foam rolling subsequently contributes to the normal deposition of collagen that supports strength and mobility.
In recent years, foam rolling has been shown to have great benefits in analgesia as well; which refers to the relief of pain. This analgesic impact is thought to be caused by specific effects that foam rolling has on prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemical mediators produced by the body which affect inflammation and response to injury or trauma.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the effects that foam rolling has on prostaglandin production. It appears that by stimulating deep tissue, foam rolling increases blood flow and reduces prostaglandin production, and hence, inflammatory reactions within the affected muscles or joints.
You might be served well to consult a physiotherapist or sports medicine physician prior to starting foam rolling, for the simple fact that things can also go wrong if you don't know what you're doing.
Reduces Stress and Promotes Relaxation
While it is believed that only athletes or people trying to recuperate need foam rolling, turns out its list of benefits is ever-growing.
It is actually becoming one of the most popular self-care tools for improved relaxation and stress relief. Used as a form of massage, it stimulates endorphins, which are hormones associated with pain management and positive emotions.
Additionally, foam rolling decreases cortisol levels in the body by activating pressure receptors located just beneath the skin. The pressure emitted from this type of massage helps decrease levels of cortisol - an adrenal hormone associated with stress responses - thus promoting feelings of relaxation and calmness.
Spending time on a regular basis dedicating yourself to some self-care using a foam roller could make all the difference in reducing stress levels and achieving your goals of better mental health- totally worth it.
If you need a little more help, using the non-habit forming sleep aid Dreamzzz can do the trick.
Speeds Up Recovery
One of the most well-known benefits of foam rolling is its ability to aid in a speedy recovery.
The reason why foam rolling works so well is because it helps reduce swelling and inflammation, while also improving the removal of metabolic waste products that may be causing pain.
Lactic acid and the accumulation of positively charged ions can build up in the body after a hard workout and foam rolling is an effective way to help disperse them.
The increased circulation experienced from foam rolling has also been linked to improved recovery times, as it means that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the affected areas.
Combined with a recovery boosting agent like Foundation; our blend of creatine and Peak ATP, your recuperative abilities are likely to be significantly faster than baseline.
Do you know of anyone that uses a foam roller for improved posture? You might be surprised to learn that foam rolling can help improve your posture.
As we roll, it helps create a balance between our muscles and helps restore proper posture by releasing tension in tight areas.
It also helps strengthen weak muscles which support the spine, thus improving overall body alignment.
Poor posture is not just the result of spinal misalignment.
It can also be attributed to tight muscles that pull the body out of its natural alignment, leading to abnormal posture and an increased risk of morbidity, especially over time.
Foam rolling helps target these areas and break up tension and scar tissue, allowing for improved posture as well as decreased discomfort.
You may even find you enjoy the back massage you get when working to improve posture!
Reduced Risk of Injury
What exactly causes injuries? There are a few possible causes. Barring traumatic-type injuries, most physiological injuries occur as a result of overuse and under-recovery.
The simple act of promoting muscle recovery by increasing blood flow can go a far way in helping reduce the risk of injury due to overuse or repetitive movements.
The other major cause of injury would have to be improper technique when lifting or performing physical activities.
Foam rolling is a great way to help those muscles become ready for the activity ahead by increasing their range of motion, which can help reduce the risk of injury the next time.
You do, also, need to exert common sense. Don't let your ego get in the way of self-preservation or you're going to have a bad time!
How To Start Foam Rolling
1. Acquire The Correct Foam Roller
The first step in starting your foam rolling journey is to acquire the proper foam roller. It is important to consider the size and firmness of the roller you choose as this will determine the intensity of your session.
If you prefer a softer, gentler massage, opt for a roller with softer foam. If you are looking for a deeper massage, choose an extra firm foam roller. Additionally, choose a size based on your available space. Smaller rollers are great for travel and are easier to store, while larger rollers provide more space to roll on and give a generally more comprehensive massage.
2. Research Correct Technique
Before you start foam rolling, it is important to research and understand the correct technique. Foam rolling is an active self-myofascial release technique that involves the use of pressure to release muscles and improve flexibility.
It is important to understand the proper way to use the foam roller in order to maximize the benefits and avoid any potential risk of injury. Researching the correct technique will also ensure that you are getting the most out of your sessions.
3. Identify The Areas of Your Body that Require Attention
Before you start foam rolling, it’s important to identify the areas of your body that require attention. You don't necessarily need to target areas that can be considered problem free, or at least, do not prioritize them.
You should pay attention to any areas that are tense, tight, or sore, as these are often the most difficult to stretch and can benefit from foam rolling.
You can also use a foam roller to target specific muscle groups, like the calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, and lower back. Additionally, you should focus on the larger muscle groups first, and gradually work your way down to the smaller muscles as your understanding of the technique improves. This will help to make the best use of the time you spend rolling.
4. Start With Light Rolling Pressure
Before beginning a session, it is important to start with light rolling pressure. To do this, try lying down and gently rolling the foam roller over your body. Start with your arms and legs, then move on to your quads and back, and make sure to take your time and focus on your breathing. This light rolling pressure is important to warm up your muscles and help reduce any tension or soreness you may feel.
5. Increase The Pressure Gradually to A Comfortable Level
After placing the foam roller on your chosen muscle group, it is important to increase the pressure gradually to a comfortable level. Depending on your current level of muscle tightness, the level of pressure may vary. Begin by applying light pressure to the muscle and then increase the pressure as the muscle begins to relax. It is important to remain mindful and stop the rolling movement if you experience any undue pain or discomfort.
Light rolling is not effective for deep massage and serves only as a warmup.
How Often Should You Use a Foam Roller?
The exact frequency with which you should use a foam roller depends on a number of factors such as your level of physical activity, any current aches or pains, and even the specific type of foam roller you are using.
Generally speaking, if you are an avid gym goer, then rolling once or twice a week should suffice. however, people who don’t regularly work out may be better off rolling two to three times per week in order to achieve more significant results.
In addition, test different types of foam rollers to find one that works best for your body; while some may offer more intense massage benefits than others, none should cause too much discomfort during use that causes you to second guess if rolling is worth it.
Is Foam Rolling Safe?
Foam rolling is considered to be a safe activity when done correctly. Pressure should be applied gradually to avoid too much strain on the body, and each session should only last for a few minutes initially.
Pain or discomfort should not be extreme, and the user's own body weight should be used to control the amount of pressure applied. Foam rollers are available in different densities and sizes depending on individual preference, so they can be tailored to suit each person's needs.
Overall, foam rolling is relatively low-risk compared to other physical activities, and most people who use a foam roller experience improved mobility with little to no risk of injury if done correctly. There are also several benefits associated with regular foam rolling sessions; these include increased flexibility, reduced muscle soreness and tension, better range of motion, improved circulation, and recovery time after exercise or physical activity- all of which contribute to better health.
Foam rolling is really one of the best techniques to improve your health that far too few people are discussing.
The rollers are affordable, both physically and mentally cathartic, and will help you feel so much better than you are now.
Do yourself a favor and learn to do foam rolling; commit to your health.