How To Properly Use A Foam Roller For Maximum Benefit

Elevate your self-care routine with a foam roller and know just how to use it.

After a workout, that sore and achy feeling in your muscle can be enough to keep you in a chair for the rest of the day. While massages are amazing and really work to get at those tight, uncomfortable areas, there are ways to really enhance your self-care. Looking into a top foam roller is one simple and affordable way to get all of the benefits of a massage without dropping a pretty penny.

While muscle soreness is part of the grind that is working out, it doesn’t have to debilitate you and keep you from doing other things you love. As a great way to release tightness, soreness, and inflammation, the benefits of foam rolling go beyond simply muscle relief. As a great tool for an effective warm-up, or a solid aid in recovery and post-workout stretching, foam rolling will leave you feeling more lose and limber than you just going about your day.

While many types of foam rollers exist, as well as other rolling tools like massage sticks and balls, it is important to find the one that will work best for you and all of your recovery needs. Don’t let muscle pain and tightness keep you from having effective workouts and a healthy lifestyle and look into a solid foam roller to enhance all aspects of your overall health and performance.

foam rolling

Finding The Right Foam Roller

With so many foam rollers on the market, finding the right one can really be challenging. It is best to narrow down your decision based on exactly what your desired needs are, the type of workouts you do, and of course, your price range.

A great, effective foam roller will have:

  • Density and firmness: Look for one that will provide enough pressure to really target spots of pain and the more dense this is, the better it will be to attack those sore spots.
  • Texture and Design: Foam rollers come in all different designs. Some are flat and smooth and are great for lighter massages while others have specially designed bumps and grooves to mimic a massage therapists hands and really penetrate deep into your muscles.
  • Size: Make sure the roller of your choice is the best size for you. Shorter ones will be more portable and provide relief but only for certain muscle groups while longer ones are great for full body use.
  • Affordability: There are some expensive foam rollers that will really target all of your needs, but others are more affordable and may provide the same relief so looking into a few options is key.

foam rolling

Benefits Of Foam Rolling

The benefits of foam rolling are extensive and while loosening your muscles and easing pain is the main goal, foam rolling will also aid in other aspects of your health, wellness, and performance. By releasing those sore spots, you eliminate tension built up in the connective tissues and feel less stressed. It will also break up fascia, which is a layer built over the muscle from repetitive movements, to increase range of motion and flexibility to elevate performance and keep you feeling limber (1).

Through foam rolling, you can also increase blood flow allowing for healthy tissue and organ function by permitting the exchange of nutrients and waste to keep everything running smoothly (2). That lactic acid build up will also decrease so your muscles can work harder without that uncomfortable burning feeling that often cuts your exercise short.

Overall, foam rolling will help relax you. Through breaking up unwanted tension, this recovery tool can decrease recovery time so you are ready to go faster and have more efficient workouts (3). Being tight and tense hurts all aspects of your life, and while we all struggle to balance so many things, giving ourselves some self-care can really go a long way.

foam rolling

How To Properly Foam Roll

If you are using foam rolling for a pre-workout warm-up, focus on the particular areas you will target during that workout to not only warm that muscle up but also increase range of motion. For post-workout recovery, focus on the muscles you worked to help preserve and maintain flexibility by loosening knots and breaking up anything that will restrict your muscle from working at maximum capacity.

When you foam roll, if there is a spot that is more tender or tight, focus on it. It works best to stop on that spot and breathe into it, really working on breaking up that knot. Slowly roll around that spot as you control your breathing, no matter how much it hurts. You can hit virtually every main muscle group with a foam roller from your lower body to your upper body, so make sure to really target spots that were just worked out or that are generally sore. Sitting at a desk, driving for long periods of time, or being on your feet for a while are all things that can tighten you up. Grab your roller, focus on what hurts, and give yourself that time you need to loosen up.

Wrap Up

Foam rolling is a great way to warm up before a workout or recover after one to really give you the best benefits possible to succeed. Finding the right foam roller can be a challenge but knowing what to look for will really help your overall goals. From easing muscle pain, to increasing blood flow, and promoting better range of motion, you will feel more relaxed and ready to take on whatever challenge comes next. Target spots of pain and embrace the discomfort knowing that even though it hurts, you are giving your body the proper care it needs. Check out some great foam rollers and start putting recovery at the forefront of your health and performance needs.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

References

  1. Wiewelhove, Thimo; Dowleing, Alexander; Schneider, Christoph; Hottenrott, Laura; Meyeer, Tim; Kellmann, Michael; Pfeiffer, Mark; Ferrauti, Alexander (2019). “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery”. (source)
  2. Okamoto, Takanobu; Masuhara, Mitsuhiko; Ikuta, Komei (2014). “Acute Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roller on Arterial Function”. (source)
  3. Cole, Gibwa (2018). “The Evidence Behind Foam Rolling: A Review”. (source)
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Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.