You can’t read a fitness blog or magazine without seeing something about the benefits of foam rolling. It’s everywhere–and with good reason!
Foam rolling is excellent for relieving post-workout soreness, for injury prevention, to help heal old sports injuries and also to relax.
If you aren’t quite ready to jump on the foam rolling phenomena, read on and discover how it works and what the physical benefits are.
How does foam rolling work?
Sports injuries scar the muscles and the soft tissue (fascia) surrounding them, which causes pain when you move.
This pain can cause further injury, as your body will be less mobile, flexible and aligned.
By using a foam roller on sore muscles, you’re increasing and releasing pressure on these scarred areas, breaking them up and alleviating the pain.
This is just the start of the benefits of foam rolling. Here are 9 more reasons you should give it a try.
1. Reduces post-workout pain
Studies show that foam rolling after an intense workout can reduce the pain felt 72 hours afterward.
Those that used foam rollers after their workout also said that they were able to continue exercising just as effectively, without any soreness.
2. Reduces cellulite
Finally–a cure for cellulite! One of the benefits of foam rolling your glutes and quads is that it releases congestion and blockages in the soft tissue around muscles, smoothing out the skin.
By performing some simple exercises each day, you can clear out these blockages and keep them clear, so you’re bikini ready all summer long.
3. Improves digestion
Food intolerances and lack of good hydration can cause painful bloating and discomfort in the belly area.
By massaging the gut with a foam roller, you can help move food through your digestive system, reducing pain and sluggishness.
4. Better posture
If you sit slumped at your desk all day long, you’ll be no stranger to aches in your back, neck and shoulders.
By performing a sequence of foam roller exercises every night, you could dramatically improve your posture. The roller lengthens muscles and releases tension that causes you to hunch or clench tired muscles.
5. Reduces the risk of injury
By giving your muscles a foam roller massage before your workout, you’re helping to reduce the risk of injury.
This is because you’re releasing any adhesions in the muscle fiber that might otherwise cause reduced mobility and flexibility, leading to injury.
6. Relieves stress
There are a number of amazing stress-busting benefits linked with foam rolling. It calms the nervous system and massages the acupressure points connected to the adrenals.
The stress relieving benefits of foam rolling also include increased elasticity in the soft tissue and the muscles they surround. Breathe deeply while you do the exercises and benefit from yoga-level relaxation.
7. More affordable than a sports massage
Although treating yourself to a deep tissue massage every so often can be good for the soul, it’s not so good for your wallet!
Investing a few dollars in a foam roller can give you the same benefits as a sports massage, without the hefty price tag.
8. Removes excess lactic acid
Hardcore exercise can sometimes leave excess lactic acid on your muscles which causes a burning ache. Benefits of foam rolling include massaging the excess acid from your muscles to relieve this ache and help your body recover faster.
Increase this benefit by drinking water to help your body flush out the toxins you’ve pushed out of your muscles.
9. Body toning
Not just a great tool to use before and after exercise, you can even use your foam roller as an aid during your workouts!
Build strength in your glutes, quads and core by using your roller in glute bridges, skaters and plie squats and get even more use out of it.
Buying your first foam roller
Foam rollers come in different sizes, densities, and textures, so it’s worth doing a little homework before heading out to buy one.
Here are some basic things to have in mind when buying your foam roller:
Foam rollers are available in three sizes as standard, each one better for different areas of the body.
The benefits of foam rolling with a small (12 inches) roller are that you can take it with you on holiday or to the gym for a post-workout massage. They’re ideal for necks, arms and shoulders.
Medium (18 inches) and large (36 inches) foam rollers are better for larger areas of the body, like back and legs. Larger sizes are also better if you’re planning on incorporating your roller into your workout.
There are softer foam rollers available on the market which may feel more gentle and relaxing to use, but be warned–they may not be as effective!
When it comes to choosing the density of your foam roller, the harder, the better. By putting pressure on your muscles, then releasing it, you’re allowing the blood to flush back in, which aids circulation.
Without a harder surface to press against, you’ll get a far less effective massage from your roller.
You can buy foam rollers in smooth and knobbled varieties, and the kind you choose will really depend on preference.
Ridges and knobbles on the surface of your roller are good for getting into those smaller muscles and act like the thumbs of a masseuse. The textured rollers tend to be kinder for beginners, too!
Smooth rollers feel a lot harsher on the muscles initially, but the long-term results will be far better. The downside is the intensity of the pressure it gives, but stick with it if you want those long-term gains!
Take a look at our picks for the top 5 foam rollers on the market and find the one that’s best for you.
The Final Word on the Benefits of Foam Rolling
Are you converted yet? Though they may initially cause discomfort, the benefits of foam rolling are plentiful.
Add them to the start and end of your workouts to increase your performance and aid your recovery. On rest days, try some relaxing stretches and exercises to regain your zen.
Perhaps all the hype about foam rollers is worth getting behind after all!