What’s The Deal With Foam Rolling?

You have probably seen people doing it at the gym. Or maybe you’ve tried it yourself and grimaced in pain the whole way through. Yes, I’m talking about foam rolling.

What’s The Deal With Foam Rolling?

In an ideal world we would all live like professional athletes. We would have professional trainers lead us through perfect workout sessions each day, our personal chef would have a delicious and wonderfully nutritious meal waiting for us, and then our massage therapist would go to work on our body to make sure our muscles were relaxed and ready for an upcoming workout.

Wouldn’t that be great? We’d all be the pinnacle of health!

Obviously it’s financially impractical to have someone do all that for us each day BUT we can still do a lot to take care of our body in a similar way (without the high price tag). Enter the foam roller!

A foam roller is a popular self-massage tool that allows someone to relieve tightness, reduce muscle soreness, and increase mobility quickly and easily. Basically, if you are an active person (and you don’t have your own personal massage therapist) then you need to be using a foam roller!

How Does Foam Rolling Work?

Foam rolling is really just the name of the tool, but the benefit being provided is called “self-myofascial release”. Myofascia is a connective “web” that forms a sort of body suit under our skin. It provides protection and organization for our other soft tissues (i.e. muscles and organs) that work to help our body move properly.

When healthy, myofascia (commonly referred to as simply “fascia”) is responsive, pliable, and flexible. However, when we work our bodies without taking time to help them recover the fascia can begin to break down. It becomes “clumpy” and much less freely moving. This creates restrictions on our muscles and reduces mobility in our joints – Both of which can be uncomfortable and lead to injury.

Foam rolling allows an individual to apply pressure to soft tissue where the fascia often becomes damaged. Just as a massage therapist works the “knots” out of our muscles, foam rolling works the knots out of our fascia. This can restore the pliability to the fascia and remove tightness that can make it difficulty to move as we should.

Do I Need To Use a Foam Roller?

Probably. Most people have some restrictions due to myofascial damage and could benefit from self-massage to aid in repair.

Imagine putting on a wet suit and going for a swim. It feels good, your stroke is smooth, and you move quite well. Now imagine that wet suit shrinking 2 sizes. Suddenly you’re restricted, you don’t breath as well, and your swimming stroke will change because your body isn’t moving well.

This can happen to anyone. We neglect helping our body recover so it degenerates with greater muscle and fascial damage. This is especially true for athletes who move their bodies so much. Tightness or breakdowns in their fascia will change the way their body moves – This isn’t a good thing! Joints will do things they aren’t supposed to be doing and muscles will start working on behalf of those that are restricted. Performance suffers and injuries occur.

At the very least, using a foam roller will help you move better (athlete or not) and can help reduce or eliminate many aches and pains you experience in your muscles and joints.

How Do I Use A Foam Roller?

There are many ways to use a foam roller for improved muscle/fascia health. Watch the video below as I demonstrate a series of moves that most people would benefit from doing on a daily basis (or at least after every workout).

Where Do I Get A Foam Roller?

Any fitness store will carry different variations of foam rollers for anywhere from $20-$50. But, if you want to try it out without spending any cash then you can make your own! Watch this video to see how you can make your own foam roller in under 60 seconds using 3 items you likely have around your house.

Build it and then use it!