Foam rolling is a method practiced by athletes to improve mobility, recovery and muscle soreness. This form of self-massage makes use of a hard foam that is molded to resemble a tube. Foam rollers are utilized by rolling different parts of the body over it before and after a workout.
Claims of this method’s effectiveness in alleviating delayed onset muscle soreness and improving performance can be found all over the internet.
The online hype along with positive testimonies of people who’ve tried it turned the foam roller from an intimidating physical therapy tool into one of the most popular self-therapy tools available on the market today. This method’s fame has grown vastly to the point that classes dedicated to teaching people how to properly use a foam roller are available.
Extensive exercise can produce post-workout soreness. Anyone who goes to the gym has firsthand experience with this. People continuously search for effective ways to ease muscle aches, and one of the most popular options available today is foam rolling. We all know popularity is not necessarily warranted, and it should not stop us from asking one of the most important questions: does foam rolling really work?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release which is designed to release tension from your connective tissues. This is quite like a massage except physical therapists aren’t in the picture. Studies have confirmed this method’s effectiveness, and here are some of the facts.
The Arguments for Foam Rolling: What Science Says
Foam Rolling Reduces Muscle Soreness
People who do foam rolling exercises right after a workout experience reduced delayed onset muscle soreness compared to those who do not practice it. This results in less tension, more comfortable movement and an improved recovery rate. Not only do you feel better faster, but you can also get back to the gym and your normal daily habits sooner, with less discomfort.
It Enhances Range of Motion
Post-workout muscle soreness can result in a limited range of motion. The reduced delayed onset muscle soreness as an effect of foam rolling helps improve hip extension angle and may increase one’s range of motion without the risk of injury. This further enhances training safety, since mobility is crucial in avoiding injury.
Foam Rolling Improves Performance
Studies reveal better performance results in agility, muscular strength and speed after executing a self-myofascial release warm-up. It has also been noted that the reduced fatigue allows people to extend workout time.
There are still a lot of things to learn about this self-massage technique, but thus far, research shows foam rolling is not just a trend but an efficient way to develop your performance and range of motion and alleviate muscle soreness.
How Can I Start Implementing Foam Rolling Today?
If you’re new to foam rolling, here’s some advice to help get you started.
1. Start With a Soft Foam Roller
Foam rollers are made differently, and some are harder than others. Unsurprisingly, the harder ones apply more pressure to your muscles and can cause a little more discomfort. If you’re new to foam rolling, ease your way in with a softer foam roller.
On a similar note, if foam rolling is causing you intense pain, something is wrong. A little pain or discomfort is normal, but you shouldn’t be in agony. Try putting less pressure on the roller. For instance, if you’re rolling out your glutes, prop yourself up more with your arms to remove some of your own weight from the foam roller.
If the pain persists, you should stop and talk to a medical professional.
2. Repetition is Important
Rolling over an area one time isn’t going to cut it, especially if that area is tight or tender. The idea with foam rolling is that the more you go over a muscle, the less it should hurt. There’s no magic number — no specific number of repetitions you should do. However, foam rolling tends to bring immediate results (even if only a slight improvement), so if you don’t feel any better after rolling out a specific area, it’s possible you simply didn’t do it enough.
The takeaway is this: Be patient and pay extra attention to the spots that need it.
3. Do Your Homework
If your back hurts, rolling out your back might help. Do you know what might help even more? Rolling out your adductors and glutes.
The human body is tricky. Just because pain ends up in a specific area doesn’t mean that area is the problem. Your back is the perfect example. For instance, back pain or tightness can be a result of a problem with the knees or hips.
We know it’s a little confusing. It helps to do your own research online, and you should also grab a coach you trust to give you some guidance. When done correctly, foam rolling can work wonders.
Grab your foam roller the next time you go to the gym and enjoy the benefits!