Foam Rollers For Muscles
For all of those who know me, you know that the one thing I love most is my foam roller. Yup the white thing that looks like a giant tampon actually has many uses and benefits for the human body. How would you like a nice deep tissue massage after a long day at work to relieve back stress, or to help sore muscles heal quicker? Foam rolling is an inexpensive way to get a nice massage without the high price of a massage therapist. Foam rollers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You can get long narrow ones, or shorter thick ones. They can range anywhere from 20 dollars to 50+ depending on what type you are getting. In my opinion, I recommend you buy one that is slightly longer than the width of your upper body. When I bought my first foam roller, I made the mistake of buying a one that was a little too short and it was kind of annoying trying to foam roll the sides of my back with one side hanging off the end of the roller.
There are many uses for foam rolling and depending on how you position the foam roller you can massage every part of your body using your body weight. I love using foam rollers for muscles that are sore and I usually spend about 15 to 20 minutes a day foam rolling my whole body.
Why foam roll?
It helps to relieve painful and tight muscles on the back, legs and arms. I love using my foam roller to massage out trigger points (tiny knots) on my back and traps that cause those darn headaches. Have you ever heard of myofascial release? (that will be a later article that goes in-depth about the myofascial system) In layman’s terms the myofascia is made up of several components including the superficial fascia, which is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin that wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system.
Myofascial release is a technique that utilizes gentle but constant pressure on the soft tissue while applying traction to the fascia. This technique helps to soften and lengthen the fascia resulting in the breakdown of scar tissue and adhesion’s between the skin, muscles and bone. This technique has been shown to relieve pain from shin splints as well as improve flexibility and the joints range of motion.
When to foam roll?
I personally foam roll after my workouts because strenuous exercise causes the muscles to store lactic acid and foam rolling is a great way to ‘release’ the acid from the muscle tissue and prevent muscle soreness and cramps. I also use foam rollers to relieve sore muscles and it actually aids in quicker muscle recovery.
How to foam roll?
For a beginner, it’s hard to know what to do with the foam roller and it takes a little getting used to before you will massage your muscles properly. Here is a basic foam rolling exercise chart to get you started.
Everyone loves a great massage, and when no one is willing to give you one or you aren’t willing to shell out a wad of cash for a massage therapist, buy a foam roller and you won’t’ regret it.