If you’ve been to any gyms or health clubs in the last few years, you’ve likely seen people rolling around on a cylindrical foam tool - aka foam rolling.
If you have yet to try foam rolling yourself, it may be because you have witnessed the grimacing faces of the gym rats taking part in this behavior. It can be, however, an effective way to release tension, prep your body for your workout, or cool down post-sweat sesh.
We will share how to foam roll properly, and you can decide if you want to foam roll or not the next time you are at the gym.
It’s time to roll out the fuzz! Your body is covered in “fuzz,” more professionally referred to as fascia.
Your fascia is a layer of fibrous tissue below the skin that covers the underlying tissue. It wraps around internal muscles and organs and separates tissue layers (it looks similar to a thick spider web).
Fascia is naturally relaxed and wavy, but daily movement, workouts, old injuries, and lack of movement can leave our fascia stiff and strained - we often refer to this built-up tension in our fascia as the "fuzz." The fuzz builds up over time and leads to pain, soreness and lack of mobility.
Foam rolling, aka myofascial release, works to loosen up the fuzz and brings your fascia back to its normal, relaxed state.
Foam rolling will:
- Help correct muscle imbalances - Your range of motion may be limited in a squat, for example, because of your tight hamstrings. By foam rolling your hamstrings before you squat, you allow your body to reach a more optimal range of motion without compensating or getting injured.
- Reduce and relieve muscle soreness and joint pain - Foam rolling increases blood flow and oxygen throughout your body. Better circulation = speedy recovery.
- Improve range of motion - By breaking up the sticky “fuzz” and increasing blood flow, you will have a greater range of motion in both your joints and muscles.
- Act as a really cheap massage - You heard that right! When you use a foam roller the right way it’s similar to getting a massage - just a lot cheaper and you, unfortunately, need to put in a little effort.
If you are a sensitive Sally, foam rolling may feel a bit too intense for you.
It can be somewhat uncomfortable, especially when rolling out areas that are exceptionally tight in your body. The good news is that you can control the intensity by shifting more weight off of the roller and by choosing a roller that is less firm.
Note: If you identify with being a “bone-y” individual and notice your spine, pelvis or other joints getting uncomfortable while rolling, we are sharing our favorite foam roller below that just may solve all your problems!
We recommend setting aside just 5-10 minutes, 3 days per week to offer your body the TLC it deserves. Regular foam rolling will help your fascia and muscles recover more quickly, rather than waiting to work through a month of dense buildup.
Note: daily myofascial release is encouraged if you can make it happen!
Reminders when performing these movements:
- Pinpoint areas of muscles/tissues, not joints and/or bones.
- Use your body and the floor to roll over the object manually.
- Play around with slow rolling back and forth, holding and relaxing into the foam roller/ball, and even rocking side to side.
- Spend 20-30 seconds per location.
- Ensure you can breathe fluidly! You should feel slight discomfort but never pain.
Below are some images of the foam rolling in action! We like to start with our calves and work our way up.
The photos below are certainly not the only ways to use the foam roller, but this is our go-to sequence:
There’s a full online program devoted to myofascial release using a foam roller and lacrosse balls called the Body Reset. If you want step-by-step sequences and video tutorials, you can find it all here.
The WHICH ONE
We have been foam rolling for years and have used every model under the sun. There are different lengths, different levels of firmness, different textures...but after trying the IntelliRoll, we are no longer sampling anything else.
Check out why we love it so much below:
Use code boopbod10 for 10% off!
Are you Ready to Roll?
The benefits of foam rolling certainly outweigh any negatives. In less than 10 minutes, you can improve your circulation, decrease muscular tension, increase range of motion, and reduce injury.
Foam roll before and/or after your workouts, and simply as needed. Remember to go slow, spend 30 seconds per area, and avoid rolling on your bones or joints.
Check out this fully informative and interactive Body Reset guide if you want more support!
You might also be interested in: A Guide To Practicing Yoga At Home