The foam roller is my BFF at the gym. We’re so inseparable that I bring mine with me every time I go to the gym, and look forward to rolling after every workout.
It started with the foam rollers provided at the gym – you’ve probably seen them if you belong to a gym. They’re a cylinder shape. As with most things in life, I wanted to take it up a notch and I ordered this roller with notches on it.
Why do I use it? It releases pain, for starters. It’s a therapeutic tool that is just so important, especially if you are active.
What does it feel like? When you use a foam roller, you use your own body weight against the roller and target specific areas. It feels like a deep tissue massage. Amazing, right? I like to roll my whole body (legs, back, neck, shoulders), however I am usually sore on my mid-low back. I lay on the foam roller on this area for a good 30 seconds at a time to really let the muscle release/relax. It HURTS in a good way. It really helps if you use your breath to manage any pain while rolling.
Let’s dive deeper into the pain relief, AKA Myofascial release. Myofascial relief describes what happens when you apply pressure to the affected areas to eliminate adhesions and release tension, ultimately improving movement and restoring the body back to its natural state. You might wonder what myofascial release means. Fascia is sort of like plastic wrap that covers pretty much every part of your body, comprised of collagen fibers that surrounds and penetrates your muscles, organs and nerves. Fascia essentially holds us together. Of course, sometimes holding everything together can take its toll on your body. It’s no different for our fascia. Through overtraining, it can become sore and restricted. Because of little tears that sometimes don’t heal properly, adhesions develop. If the connective tissue surrounding your muscle becomes restricted, you’ll notice your muscles will also become restricted in their movement. – Source
Not only does foam rolling help with pain relief, they can also help for reducing cellulite. Can we get an amen?! Kayla Istenses talks about this more on her blog: “Improved blood flow can also help with the removal of toxins from your muscles, meaning that foam rolling may help to reduce the appearance of cellulite.”
More benefits of using a foam roller include:
♡ Improved flexibility and increased joint range of motion
For years, stretching was the standard method to decrease muscle tightness and improve flexibility prior to either working out or performing a sport. Newer research, however, shows foam roller exercises before an activity can lead to an increase in flexibility.
♡ Improved circulation
Because blood carries oxygen throughout the body, good circulation becomes crucial to overall health. Among other reasons, a decrease in our circulation can lead to a whole host of problems like numbness in our limbs, impaired cognitive ability (the ability to think clearly!) and a weak immune system. Myofascial release can help improve circulation by breaking up the tight areas where blood flow may become restricted.
♡ Stress reduction
Foam roller exercises can help reduce stress post-workout. One study found myofascial release can lower cortisol, your stress hormone that you want to seriously dial down after a strenuous workout. I’m ALL about this one as I am learning a lot about cortisol and how it affects the body.
♡ Reduce exercise-related soreness
Whether you are an experienced athlete or a weekend warrior, you’ve probably experienced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Research finds foam rolling can substantially reduce the chances of that soreness creeping in so that you don’t spend the day after your first cycling class stuck on the couch wondering why your legs hate you so much.
♡ Prevent injury
Treating an injury becomes much easier when you avoid it in the first place. Oftentimes a consistent routine of proper stretching techniques combined with foam roller exercises can prevent many injuries associated with tightness and overuse.
Do you foam roll? What is your favorite kind?