Why hello, Gorgeous!
For today’s Fitness Friday, let’s take a hot minute to discuss foam rolling.
Full disclosure: I am NOT an expert on this topic. I actually very rarely approach these mysterious Styrofoam covered cylinders.
However, I noticed multiple different styles of foam rollers during my last visit at Barry’s Bootcamp. While some appeared to be smooth, others appeared to have jagged ridges, and this sparked my curiosity.
What’s the point of foam rollers? How do you use one properly? How does the style of the roller affect the results?
So I went on a little quest and discovered some of the benefits of foam rolling.
1. What’s the point?
According to this article by muscleandfitness.com, foam rolling is one of the most commonly used methods for achieving self-myofascial release (SMR). SMR, which can sometimes be referred to as “the poor man’s massage”, involves a low load being slowly dragged along layers of soft tissue in the body. When you do this for a period of time, the body “releases” the rolled-on tissue, which then helps to restore the mobility in that part of the body. Basically, a foam roller can act as your therapist’s hands when he or she is on vacation.
Some obvious health benefits of foam rolling include a wider range of motion and increased blood flow throughout the body. What does this mean for the everyday gym rat? It means a reduced likelihood of developing an injury, as well as a shortened recovery time after an intense workout.
2. What’s the technique?
The key to proper foam rolling is to roll slowly. Let’s say you’re foam rolling your calves…
“Begin by placing one leg on the roller, then place the other leg on top of it. Raise the hips and slowly begin to roll to the knee. If you find an extra tender spot, stop and hold. After about 20 seconds continue to roll through the area four times. Then set the hips on the ground and rotate the leg four times side to side.” – Brynne Elliot, director of education and programming at TriggerPoint Performance Therapy
Of course, you can foam roll whichever body part needs it most. Just remember to apply pressure and slowly roll along the tissue multiple times to achieve SMR.
3. What kind is right for me?
A low-density foam roller is the softest. This will be your best friend for when your muscles are already sore and don’t need to be subjected to a lot of pressure. Click here or on the picture to shop the one below.
A firm foam roller is…well… more firm. Firm rollers like the one below will provide a deeper, more intense sensation, and due to the deeper, increased intensity, it can be a great choice for athletes. Applying deeper pressure will further shorten recovery time so you can get back to training ASAP.
A short foam roller, like the one below, can a) be easier to store, b) be easier and quicker to re-position, and c) be easier to travel with. It can come in both low and high densities, and is just an alternative size to make your foam-rolling-experience as convenient as possible.
Rocky, jagged-looking foam rollers are designed to really dig in to trigger points. You have to reposition yourself to get all the right spots, but it’s worth it! Shop the one below by clicking here.
Lastly, the below vibrating foam roller is the kind I decided to use after my Barry’s class. The vibrations allows you to reach deeper tissue, which obviously increases the intensity. Needless to say, this was probably not what I needed after an intense workout. I was grimacing in pain in no time, but I imagine it would work wonders on muscles that were not already tender.
If you’re looking to purchase a foam roller that would be suitable for all scenarios, I suggest choosing one that’s medium density. This style is bound to be firm enough to feel it working, but also soft enough to use when your bod is feeling a tad more delicate.
Enjoy “rolling” into the weekend. 😉