5 Ways Foam Rollers Improve Your Health, Appearance and Performance
Using foam rollers is common among athletes and the practice is a type of Self Myofascial Release Technique. Most often, they are used to massage your muscles and help release knots that can occur with vigorous exercise. The top reason why athletes choose foam rollers is because they have the potential to help speed recovery after a workout. The term “myofascial” refers to your muscular system, as well as the soft tissue that surrounds your muscles. Using foam rollers helps get to the soft tissue, from the surface of your skin all the way down into the deeper portions of your tissue and muscles.
Foam rollers might be used most often by athletes, or those using them under the care of a chiropractor or physical therapist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them too. In fact, many experts say that foam rollers are something that everyone should be using. The main reason being that foam rollers work to loosen muscles and release tension that accumulates due to normal daily activities.
When you use the foam rollers, you apply pressure to specific points on your body for 30 to 60 seconds, helping loosen the muscles throughout your body. There are several reasons why adding foam rollers to your routine is a beneficial.
Increase Joint Mobility, Peak Performance and Range of Motion
When you use a foam roller before and after you exercise, you effectively boost your range of motion and joint mobility. Combined with flexibility, joint mobility and range of motion are important for reaching your peak performance. These three factors also boost your speed, your muscle adaptability and your power.
When you spend many hours a day sitting, like people who work in offices often do, the fascia in your body tends to settle into patterns that increase your risk of stiff joints, reduced mobility and pain. When you use a foam roller, you work to break up the fascia, which helps restore normal function and motion in your muscles and tissue. It will also help cut down on the stress that sitting all day long can do to your body.
Improves Circulation, Which Boosts Performance and Health
Each time you use a foam roller, you increase circulation in the body, especially in the specific area where you are rolling. The point of myofascial techniques, such as foam rolling, is to open blood vessels, boosting oxygen flow and allowing more nutrients to move through your bloodstream. Foam rollers also help rid your body of certain by-products from exercise, including carbon dioxide and lactic acid. When you have more oxygen in your muscles and fewer by-products, you have more power and adaptability and less fatigue and cramping. Healthy circulation is important for your entire body, including your internal organs, from your heart to your brain. By combining foam rolling with exercise, you can boost your performance and continue to excel.
Improves Recovery and Reduces Injury and Soreness
About 24 to 48 hours after an intense workout, you will often experience muscle soreness and stiffness. Using a foam roller shortens recovery time by boosting healing through improved circulation and breakdown of exercise by-products. The deep tissue massage that a foam roller provides helps break down scars and adhesions that occur in your muscles and tissues when you exercise. Adding a foam roller to your pre-exercise routine helps loosen your muscles before you get started, which gets the blood flowing and cuts down on your risk of injury. This can also help reduce the chances of muscle strain and injury during your actual workout. However, rolling is not an adequate substitute for proper stretching as your warm up or cool down routine.
Creates Healthy Connective Tissues for a Stronger Body
Fascia is one type of connective tissue in your body and is produced naturally within your body. However, if it isn’t laid properly in and around your muscles, it doesn’t move and work like it should, because it is improperly shaped and directed. This can result in poorly laid patterns of fascia, restrictions and adhesions that can interfere with your workout, resulting in compensatory movements that increase your risk of injury, poor performance and pain. Each time you use a foam roller, you help align the fascia and ensures that new fascia develops and is laid down properly. This will save you recovery time and means you won’t have to pay a massage therapist to help you recover after an intense workout.
Reduces the Appearance of Cellulite
Cellulite is often thought of as the result of changes to your connective tissue and leads to dimpling on the surface of your skin, especially on the thighs and buttocks. Cellulite can also occur due to the build-up of toxic materials in your body and poor circulation. Women are more prone to cellulite, though some men experience it as well. Because using a foam roller boosts circulation, maximizes nutrient flow, removes waste products and promotes healthy fascia, using one can help reduce the appearance of current cellulite and prevent the formation of more. Combined with a healthy meal plan and regular exercise, using a foam roller is an effective way to improve your body’s connective tissue formation for smooth skin.
As you can see, there are a variety of benefits to using a foam roller, which includes reducing aches and pains after exercise, as well as boosting your mobility. Foam rollers can also increase your range of motion, adaptability, strength and balance. It only takes a few minutes to benefit from using a foam roller. Just a few minutes per day can help you feel better and boost your performance.
How to Choose a Foam Roller
Which foam roller is best? Spikes or no spikes? Does expensive mean better?
These are common questions among people who are considering buying a foam roller. There are a wide range of foam rollers on the market. They vary in price, size, shape, design and material. The one you should buy is based on several factors.
No single foam roller is best for everyone. Your primary objective is to find a foam roller that improves circulation, triggers pressure points and helps you recover after a workout. Figure out what you want from your foam roller and that should take the guesswork out of choosing the one that’s right for you. Consider the following when making a decision:
Do I need bumps? What material is best? Foam or EVA? Can I use a PVC pipe tool or pool noodle?
These are all features of a foam roller and the more features it has, the more the price may go up.
MATERIALS AND DURABILITY:
Softer materials will flatten and lose their shape more quickly than harder ones, but you can often still use the foam roller, even if it’s lost some of its original shape. The materials used to create a foam roller determine its durability and density, which is how hard the foam roller is and how much pressure it applies to your muscles. Both PE and EVA are standard foam roller materials and generally have the softest feel. Harder EVA and EEP offer more pressure to your body and are firmer to the touch. The highest density foam rollers are those with an EVA or PVC pipe cores. This will be the hardest type of foam roller. The one you choose should be based specifically on what you need your foam roller to do for you.
Foam rollers have a variety of surface textures. You might see spikes, a grid pattern, “Y” shaped grooves or something else. These are usually advertised as a way to increase the benefits of the massage. Experts aren’t entirely sure whether these styles are more beneficial than the traditional ones. Choosing a design is largely a matter of personal preference, but it can be difficult to target your muscles with a textured foam roller and you might be better off using a trigger point ball for this purpose instead.
The standard foam roller length is between 33 and 45cm and 13 to 15 cm in circumference, but you can also find them in other lengths and widths. Travel sized foam rollers will be much smaller, while full length models will be longer. The one that’s best for you, again depends on what you need it for. Most people can’t effectively use a travel sized roller, but they can be beneficial for your gym bag.
Ask Yourself These Three Questions for Find the Perfect Foam Roller
What will you use it for?
A softer foam roller is ideal for people new to the practice who simply want to reduce muscle soreness.
A firmer foam roller is ideal for people who don’t mind a bit of pain and who want a deeper massage.
If you want to use your foam roller during exercise, firmer is better for balance and performance.
A longer sized roller is ideal if you want to lay back onto it without compromising the support and natural alignment of your spine.
How much space do you have?
A small foam roller is ideal for your gym bag.
Standard or long foam rollers are best if you want to exercise on yours. Long is best for lying on.
Don’t have a preference? Small or medium is your best bet.
What’s your budget?
Do you want the latest and greatest when it comes to foam rollers?
Do you care about the brand name?
How often do you plan to use the foam roller? Will you stop using it eventually?