Not just the realm of professional athletes, foam rolling has hit the mainstream as an easy, affordable method of myofascial release. But do you really need ANOTHER piece of fitness equipment to potentially gather dust? When it comes to the foam roller, the answer is a resounding yes! Here are six reasons you should consider rolling it out after your next workout. Or even just a long day stuck at your computer.
1. Foam rolling relieves tension and tightness
While it would be nice to have a massage after every tough workout or deadline day, most of our budgets don’t allow such luxury. Thankfully, you can achieve many of the same benefits at home with your trusty foam roller. Using a foam roller and your bodyweight, you can break up knots, relax and release muscles, and boost circulation, blood and nutrient flow.
2. It helps you recover after a workout
There’s a reason athletes love to foam roll: it helps to speed up the recovery process. Rolling over the areas you have just used helps to relieve post-workout pains by increasing blood flow to the area, which improves circulation – pumping lactic acid out and getting fresh blood and oxygen into the area.
3. It helps improve your mobility
By reducing muscle tightness, you’ll enjoy greater flexibility and mobility. Not just for recovery, foam rolling as part of your warm up can improve your range of motion, allowing you to reap more benefits from your training session. So, give those glutes a good going over before your sumo squats.
4. You’ll reduce your risk of injury
Increase of temperature through the friction of foam rolling causes a ‘warming up’ effect on the muscles and gets blood flowing, loosening them up, increasing your range of motion and helping you move and perform better during exercise, thus reducing the chance of an injury.
5. It can help you become fitter and stronger
With faster recovery time, increased mobility and fewer injuries, you’ll be able to work out more often. Instead of wasting days sidelined due to unnecessary aches and pains.
6. It can give you a great stretch
Even if the most strenuous thing you did all day was send a firmly worded email, foam rolling is a great habit to embrace as you watch the evening news. Lying along the length of the roller, spread your arms out away from the body and let gravity do its work – lengthening and relaxing your tight, shortened pectoral muscles.
A word of caution…
Proper foam rolling technique is important, so ask your physio for directions before getting started. Don’t foam roll directly over an acute injury or where there is acute / intense pain. Avoid putting too much pressure over one particular area over a short period of time, which can result in acute pain. And, if ever unsure, ask your physio!
Ana Coan is an experienced and passionate physiotherapist with a decade of experience and qualifications in Pilates, fitness, dry needling and Functional Movement Screening. With a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Santa Catarina State University (Brazil), Ana has worked in private practice, aged care facilities and with a junior swim team. A former champion swimmer, she brings a unique perspective and keen interest in sports-related musculoskeletal injuries, women’s health and chronic pain to her treatments.