BENEFITS, RISKS & HOW TO START

Foam rollers are a great method of getting rid of tension and building muscle length for a pre-workout warm-up or a post-exercise active recovery. Known as self-myofascial release (SMR), using foam rollers to reduce muscle tension is a widely accepted fitness practice.  Read on to learn about foam rolling’s benefits and potential risks, plus how to add it to your routine.

 

BENEFITS OF FOAM ROLLING

Improves Mobility &  Flexibility

Increased Blood Flow – Myofascial release via foam rolling exercises stretches and loosens muscles which gets the blood moving. Blood carries vital nutrients (oxygen & glycogen) to spent muscles.

Improved Movements – Hydrated and looser muscles move past one another with less friction which means during a workout, movements are smother and muscles are less likely to be pulled or damaged. Foam rolling before a workout as part of a dynamic warm-up is especially effective for myofascial release.

Better Range of Motion – Properly stretched and lubricated muscles means that more muscle can be recruited in a given workout. Better range of motion indicates more flexibility.

Decreased Injury Risk – When coordination of the body is improved, the likelihood of an improper movement during a workout leading to injury is reduced.

Some Do’s & Don’ts

DO check out different foam rollers before choosing the one for you.  There are different lengths, diameters and density.

DO expect a little bit of pain.  It should be a “good hurt” — NEVER unbearable or sharp pain, just a bit uncomfortable.

DO roll slowly – never more than one inch per second.  Do not roll in a fast back-and-forth motion.

DON’T roll on a joint or a bone.  Avoid knees, elbows and ankles which could cause you to hyper-extend or damage them.

DON’T roll your lower back.  This may cause the spine to contract in an effort to protect itself.  For back issues, consult a professional.

DON’T roll to the point of excessive soreness.  Placing too much sustained pressure on one body part can result in further damage.

 

is foam rolling safe?

Foam rolling is thought to be safe if you have muscle tightness or regularly exercise.  Don’t foam roll if you have a serious injury like as a muscle tear or break without your doctor or a therapist saying it’s okay.  Always consult your doctor before adding new tools to your workout.

 

HOW TO START

If you’ve never foam rolled before, you may want to learn a few basics before you get started. It’s important to get knowledgeable instruction.  If you exercise at the gym with foam rollers, ask a trainer to walk you through the proper way to use a roller.

here are some tips:

Use light pressure and increase as you get used to foam rolling. You may find it painful to foam roll at first if your muscles are tight. To adjust pressure, lighten the amount of body weight you’re using on the roller. For example, if you’re rolling out your calf, use your arms to help support your body and take some of your body weight off the roller.

Slowly roll tender areas for 10 seconds to start, then work up to 30 to 60 seconds at a time.

Hydrate after foam rolling to help with recovery.

If you want more tips, here are 8 foam rolling moves you can try.

the bottom line

If you add a foam roller to your warm-up and cool-down routine, you may find yourself feeling less sore in the days following.  If you regularly sit or stand for your job, or just have aches and pains, foam rolling may also be useful.  TALK WITH A FITNESS PROFESSIONAL to learn more.

 

Resources:  healthline.com

FITNESS