You might have spotted them in the corner of the gym – colorful tubes with small ridges adorning their surface. If you’ve never used foam rollers before now, you might find their appearance quite strange. However, they could be the secret weapon in boosting your fitness regime. Here’s what you need to know about them.
What is Foam Rolling?
While foam rollers were traditionally used by physiotherapists in treatment, they have now become mainstream. They are used in myofascial release therapy, a practice that helps release tension in your muscles. When you use these pieces of equipment, you’re essentially massaging the key muscles that you use the most when you train.
As the name suggests, the technique targets the fascia, which is a technical term for the collagen fibers that surround your muscles and organs. The fibers hold your body together but can get stiff and restricted when you’re working out. By putting pressure on the various areas of your body that ache, you can help to release this tension, which aids recovery.
However, that’s not all. You can also use myofascial release before you begin your workout. There’s an entire body of research that points to this technique helping to improve mobility, flexibility, and to reduce your risk of injury.
The Benefits of Foam Rolling
So, why should you start foam rolling before and after exercise? Adding this routine to your current training schedule could help you improve your fitness game in a whole range of different ways. Here are some of the top benefits you should know about.
Reduce the Risk of Injury
Of course, the traditional way to avoid getting injured during exercise is to stretch before activity. However, you can use a foam roller instead of completing your regular stretching routine. The roller will help to massage and knead your muscles, stretching them out and making them longer before you start working out.
That means that you lower your risk of getting injured during training and should find that it’s more comfortable too.
Boost Your Flexibility
If you struggle with your flexibility and mobiliity, you might want to learn a little more about foam rolling. Research suggests that using a foam roller before you engage in an activity can lead to higher levels of flexibility. The results showed that participants’ range of motion increased by a little over 4% after they used a foam roller to massage key muscle groups.
Lower Your Stress Levels
Feeling stressed out and full of tension? Using a foam roller can directly attack the physical signs of stress. Research from the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that this activity can help to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol after you’ve had a workout. Take the time to engage in some foam rolling post training.
Maintaining good circulation is the key to your overall health. To ensure that your muscles (and even your brain) function correctly, you need to make sure that you stay on top of this aspect of your wellness. When you start foam rolling, you will find that it helps to boost your circulation by releasing areas of tightness that would otherwise restrict blood flow.
When you’ve completed your workout, you may find that foam rolling helps to speed up the recovery process. Improving your blood flow means that your muscles will get the oxygen that they need to repair and rebuild. If you get into this habit, it could make a huge difference to how you feel after you’ve trained hard at the gym.
Now that you’ve got the facts, it’s plain to see that there’s a whole range of ways in which using foam rollers could improve your health and fitness. Why not begin using them today? Take the time to look at some basic foam roller exercises online. Start small with the simple moves and then, when you’re confident, attempt some of the harder ones.