Have you ever used a foam roller? They are the colorful foam logs that you probably see stacked in the corner of your gym’s stretching area and they are not to be overlooked. I started using them about 6 years ago at the suggestion of a personal trainer and they have significantly improved my post-exercise recovery and range of motion.
Studies have shown that self-myofascial release, or self-massage, can effectively treat overworked and “devastated” muscles after an intense workout (see here also). In addition, foam rolling can help prep the body for stretching, which helps release lactic acid build-up—a major contributor to day-after soreness. To be fair, foam rolling can be a little uncomfortable because you are putting more than half your body weight on a specific muscle or trigger point, but it’s this pressure that helps release knots and aches. Ease into it if you’re just beginning in order to find your threshold.
They can be a little intimidating to use if you’re new to them so I thought I’d share a few links to help you become a little more familiar with various ways in which you can use a foam roller for a deep self-massage.
- Full-body rolling routine (video)
- Basic moves using a foam roller
- Foam rollling for runners
- To relieve soreness and pain
- Helpful tips for beginners
I haven’t found an affordable foam roller here in Switzerland, but I did find a massage stick that works in a similar way. And if we’re being totally honest, before I found that I used a rolling pin to achieve similar results.
It doesn’t take much time or pressure to foam roll your muscles. It’s important not to overwork an area because you might end up inflaming or aggravating it even more than the initial exercise did. Therefore, listen to your body. I like to do this 3-4 times a week, and it feels especially good after a long flight or day of travel.
Any thoughts? Do you incorporate a foam roller into your stretching and recovery? My favorite way to use it is along my IT band, which gets really tight and knotted with all the running I do. It also feels really soothing along my lower back and hips.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a fitness expert. Exercise is a hobby and big interest of mine. I have never been certified as a personal trainer and only have certifications for yoga through YogaFit. Please consult a trained professional before beginning a new fitness program. Thank you! : )