But what is foam rolling? What does it do? Why does it seem like everyone is recommending it?

Pre-workout or post-workout, a long day at your desk, or after a long shift at a physically demanding job, have you ever wished you could get some relief from aching muscles? You could try and book a massage of course, but massages can be pretty cost-prohibitive, not to mention many of us are still being cautious in the face of COVID. Searching for ways to ease tense and achy muscles, you may have come across a popular term used repeatedly: foam rolling.

But what is foam rolling? What does it do? Why does it seem like everyone is recommending it? If you’ve ever wondered if you should start foam rolling and why foam rolling is important, we shed some light on what it is and what it can do.

What Foam Rolling Is?
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique. Self-myofascial release is exercising that help smooth out the connective tissue that stabilizes your muscles—also known as facia. Practitioners of foam rolling use a cylinder-shaped roll of solid foam to apply pressure to a group of muscles that may be tense due to inactivity, overuse, stress, repetitive motions, or even injury.

When it comes to exercising, what you do in between workouts during recovery is often just as important as what you do while working out. The foam roller is one of the simplest, yet effective and popular tools used to aid muscle recovery and ease the tension when done correctly.

What Foam Rolling Does for You?
Foam rollers, in the simplest explanation, are tools for self-massage. When you use a foam roller you can help alleviate muscle tenderness by releasing what is called myofascial buildup. The myofascial buildup is adhesions in your muscles and connective tissues. Foam rolling applies pressure that can be pinpointed to spots on muscles, tendons, and ligaments to loosen tight tissue and improve your blood flow. This action stimulates your muscles to recover, perform better and even help build a better support system.

  1. Increasing Range of Motion
    Foam rolling, done properly, may help to increase your range of motion, as this is an important part of remaining flexible and helping performance in both workouts and daily movement.
  2. Beneficial to Fibromyalgia
    Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain throughout the entire body. This pain stems from issues in the way a body’s nervous system processes pain signals. In a study of adults living with fibromyalgia, participants that incorporated foam rolling for at least 20 weeks reported that they felt better and experienced less pain intensity. They also reported less fatigue, stiffness, as well as fewer instances of depression from those who did not try any foam rolling.
  3. Relaxation Aid
    Foam rolling to help you relax is generally considered safe to do for muscle tightness. Just remember to avoid foam rolling if you do have a serious injury such as a muscle tear or break unless your healthcare providers or physical therapist has cleared you to foam roll.
    Easing muscle tension is an excellent means to take a moment to relax.
  4. Why Muscles Feel Sore
    There is a webbed, fibrous connective tissue surrounding and supporting larger muscles and body parts called fascia. Fascia protects the layers below it and can grow stiff then tighten when you use a muscle repetitively, such as intense exercise for example. When we workout, we are breaking down and building up new muscle, but to build new muscle, micro-tears are made in the fascia and this leads to sore muscles or what you might more commonly known as knots.
  5. Foam Rolling for Beginners
    If you are interested in beginning to foam roll, the best place to start is with smooth rollers. For instance, our foam rollers come in two sizes, standard 5-inch diameter by 11-inch length, or long which is 5-inches in diameter and 70 inches long. With a three-pound density, it is solid enough to give the right amount of pressure to begin easing muscle. These are best for newcomers to foam rolling as they offer an even texture, are not as intense as a textured roller, and are affordable too. Visit us at www.thefoamfactory.com to learn more about pricing and shipping.

    The shape and size of a foam roller can affect how they perform. For instance, a short foam roller is more effective in managing smaller areas like arms and calves as well as being more portable. Longer foam rollers are excellent for larger areas, like your back or front.

    When it comes to learning how to foam roll, we’re lucky that there are hundreds of videos and instructions online that can explain how to safely roll out different parts of your body. But the general basics are:
    • Start with light pressure. You don’t want to push yourself and accidentally cause more pain by overworking an area. Use light pressure and build it upward as you get more and more used to foam rolling. You may very well find it painful the first time, so ease up on the pressure and bodyweight you are putting on the roller at first.

    • Slowly roll sore areas for roughly 10 seconds to start, then rest. Then as you get used to rolling, gradually work up to 30 seconds and then 60 seconds.

    • Make sure you are drinking plenty of water after foam rolling. It helps with recovery.

    Why Foam Rolling Is Important
    Foam rolling is important for everyone and anyone that experiences muscle soreness and has the range of mobility to use them. Especially if you are a fitness, weightlifting, running, or workout enthusiast as foam rolling helps your muscles recover faster. It is also an excellent way to self-massage away the tension of a long day for anyone that experiences tight muscles but can’t afford to visit a masseuse on a weekly or daily basis.

    Relaxation and recovering are as essential to leading a healthier lifestyle as it is to exercise and keep moving. A foam roller is an excellent, inexpensive tool that can help speed up that recovery while allowing you to roll away knots and drift off into relaxation.

    Sources: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28139112/

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