At first glance, a foam roller looks like the most out-of-place piece of equipment in a fitness studio. Until you’ve foam rolled, it’s hard to understand the powers of the foam roller. That’s likely why foam rolling is an often under-used component of building and maintaining healthy muscles, tendons and joints. What is foam rolling? What are the benefits of foam rolling? If you’re wondering this (and have also wondered at other studio members lying on the ground with those long pool-noodle-looking things), we’ve got a quick tutorial to keep you in the loop. It’s addictive too, so get ready to dive into a life of foam rolling. But this is an addiction your body will thank you for.
Foam rollers are long, narrow, and round – picture a rolling pin made of dense foam. The idea is that those with tight, knotted, sore areas on their legs, hips, glutes, back and other body parts can use the pressure of their body weight on the foam roller to relieve the tension in those spots. Best foam-rolling practice calls for moving the weight of your body very slowly up and down the area that is being rolled, and when a sore spot is found, keep the pressure on that spot for about 30 seconds before moving to a different area. The proper name for this process is self-myofascial release, which simply means self-massage.
There are many reasons why we are huge fans of this process, and encourage our members to become hard-core “rollers” too. In fact, you won’t train at a FIT36 without seeing foam rollers in the room. These are a few of the reasons why:
- Healthy, lengthened muscles = more productive workouts. If you strain your IT band during a run or a studio session, you’re more likely to baby it during your next workout. OR, even worse, your body tries to compensate for the sore muscle by overworking other areas in an off-balance way. Regularly utilizing foam rollers to help keep sore spots in check can greatly reduce the impact of, and lost workout time due to, strained muscles.
- Foam rolling increases circulation, promotes cellular health and can even increase your immune system.
- Rolling can help put the kibosh on excessive pill-popping. Whether your ibuprofen bottle is as big of a must-have in your gym bag as your water bottle, or you take them just occasionally, we can all agree that the less over-the-counter medication we have to take, the better, right? Regular use of a foam roller can reduce the need for medications by relieving the pain in a natural way that actually helps heal, and not just cover up, the problem.
- Any time spent paying attention to what your body is telling you is time well-spent. Foam rolling can be a little time-consuming, and we think that’s a good thing. It requires long, slow movements, as well as longer periods of rest over tight spots. If you notice that the same spot in your thigh is tight every time you roll, it may be telling you to give that area some extra TLC with longer and more-frequent stretches or warm baths. It can also tell you that your form may need a little fixing as well. Foam rolling, when done properly, can help us make great gains in body awareness and body care.
- Foam rolling costs WAY less money than medical treatments – and no office co-pays or two-week waiting lists required.
Go ahead and give foam-rolling a try. If you have a question about it, or get a case of the “no-way-this-is-too-weird” once you get ready to use one, just ask one of our trainers. We’ll be happy to get you rolling along in no time.