Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, warm-ups for gym class and after-school sports primarily consisted of trying to touch your toes and other basic stretches. While stretching still has its place— although some are doubting its touted benefits—many knowledgeable trainers, including cross-fit trainers, now advocate that you incorporate foam rolling into your workouts.
What is a foam rolling?
Foam Rolling uses a foam roller to self-apply pressure to many parts of the body to obtain a myofascial release, similar in many ways to massage. With a foam roller, you can work on your legs and upper back, for example, by using your own body weight to control the pressure that you apply to the tissues. You can obtain similar benefits using a lacrosse ball to specific parts of the body that a foam roller can’t reach quite as well.
It has become increasingly clear that mobility issues plague the desk jockeys that are trying to get into shape. Incorporating foam rolling into your workouts can help to overcome some of those issues.
With a foam roller, you can work on your legs and upper back, for example, by using your own body weight to control the pressure that you apply to the tissues. You should move slowly and avoid rolling over your lower back. While you can roll over muscle knots, it is important to also roll around the knot.
Below is a video demonstrating proper foam-rolling technique:
What are the benefits of foam rolling?
- Foam rolling can break down knots in your muscles.
By using your body weight on the foam roller, you generate direct pressure on the knot. By going over the muscle with the knot a several times, you can begin to break it down.
- Foam rolling can loosen your body’s fascia.
Fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that supports and encloses muscles and organs. The direct pressure from the foam roller helps to loosen up this tissue.
- Foam rolling can relax and lengthen tight muscles.
By applying pressure to difficult-to-stretch muscles, you can help to lengthen shorted tissues.
- Foam rolling can improve blood flow and circulation.
The enhanced blood circulation throughout your skin, fascia and muscles will improve cellular function, similar to how massage betters cellular function.
- Foam rolling can reduce pain.
Similar to massage, the process itself may be painful as you work out knots. In fact, let’s be honest—it can hurt. But afterward, particularly if you work with the foam ro ller consistently, you will most likely have less overall pain.
Foam rolling is a great way to start or even end a workout. If you want to get stronger, faster, leaner, and in better shape, foam rolling can help you avoid injury and reach your goals. CrossFit boxes, for example, incorporate foam rolling into most of their workouts. Foam-rolling also incorporates well into a weightlifting program.
Before any workout program, you should consult your health professional. Also, please keep in mind that although foam rolling can be effective, if you have health problems or concerns, there may be reasons specific to you why foam rolling is a bad idea. So please do your own due diligence before starting.
If you would like to purchase a foam roller from Amazon, please click one of the foam-roller pictures below.