Chances are you’ve seen one by now at your local gym, sporting good store, or even Wal-Mart sporting goods section: Cylindrical piece of foam between 1.5 to 3 feet long, maybe a few nubs or spikes adorning the outside. It’s a funky piece of fitness equipment that has exploded in popularity the last few years. I started foam rolling several years ago after reading about it on a few websites. I ordered mine online for 15 bucks, and now they’re everywhere.
Use your body weight and the roller to smash out your muscles before and/or after working out.
There are a few reasons big fitness minds recommend using foam rollers:
- Your muscles get all tight, bindy, and knotted up in spots. Strategically rolling your muscles is supposed to stimulate a reflexive release of your muscle fibers so that they relax. Sort of like a poor man’s massage.
- Freeing up your muscles allows you to achieve more efficient positioning, so foam rolling before working out may help your form while performing various movements in a workout. (If your upper back muscles are all cramped up like a crab, then you hunch over, which translates into a bad position for doing pretty much anything).
There’s some debate about the proper/most efficient way to do this, but almost everyone recommends finding a tight spot, a knot, or a “trigger point” on your muscle while rolling it out, and then smashing on that area until you achieve some sort of relaxation. It can actually get to be a bit painful.
Some advocate long, sweeping strokes, others recommend see-sawing back and forth on a muscle, and some opt for finding a trouble spot and then contracting/relaxing on the knot. Usually it’s a combo of all three.
In three years I have not hurt myself using the foam roller, and I have noticed some improved quality of movement and a reduction in aches and pains associated with lifting heavy. Friends, family, and personal training clients, I recommend foam rolling. Strangers, take it with a grain of salt. This is the internet.
if you are ready to give it a shot, get started with a quick video I made with the help of my little girl. She adds helpful commentary while I go through a few basics movements.