Why you need a foam roller and how to use it
You may hear about or see a foam roller and wonder what the heck it is. Why do athletes, gym-goers, and even non-athletic people use a foam roller? Though foam rollers look funky and even hurt while using them, they can significantly relieve tight muscles to improve overall health and reduce the chances of injury.
If you haven’t ventured to use a foam roller yet, here’s why you might want to and how to use it.
Why use a roam roller?
Shaped like a perfectly spherical log, the foam roller allows you to administer a muscle massage to yourself in a targeted area. Foam rollers come in a variety of densities allowing you to choose just how tough you want to be on your muscles while using them.
When used properly, the foam roller will apply an evenly distributed amount of pressure directly into knotted muscles or tight tendons. This deep pressure helps encourage muscles to safely release the tension, thus allowing them to work more fluidly as nature intended.
By using a foam roller regularly you are preventing your muscles from ever becoming too tight. When muscles tense up and form knots they pull on the connective tissues, such as tendons, and put unhealthy pressure on joints and other major muscle groups. When this undue pressure becomes too much for the body, you can seriously injure yourself by snapping a tendon or muscle.
As you can imagine, athletes in particular have learned to love this strange, and somewhat tortuous, device.
How to use a foam roller
The foam rolling process is quite simple. All that you need is the weight of your own body, gravity, and your nifty foam roller. Here’s what you do:
- Place the foam roller on the ground and lay your body across it so that the targeted area rests atop the foam roller.
- Slowly slide back and forth, using the spherical shape of the roller to guide you so that you feel a deep pressure over the muscle knots; there will be no question as to when you are directly on the knot as you will feel the sweet and tortuous burn.
- Move slowly and allow your body weight to provide the pressure that you need in order to break down the knotted area.
What to expect after using a foam roller
As you can imagine, this can sometimes be very painful. Applying pressure to an inflamed muscle to the point of loosening a knot can make the area even more inflamed and sensitive. Expect to be sore afterward, even to the touch. However, the important thing to do is to keep moving to allow your body to flush out the muscle acid that your self-massage just released. With continued use, foam rolling will become less painful and your range of motion will increase significantly.
A foam roller is a relatively cheap investment that pays you back tenfold. It can help prevent injuries and has proven to be helpful to relieve sore spots and increase flexibility. Give a foam roller a try and be amazed at both the sweet pain you deliver yourself as well as your increased flexibility!