Sometimes referred to as the poor man’s massage, foam rolling has gained popularity within to past few years because people are realizing the amazing benefits. Foam rolling is the technique of rolling out a body part to mobilize muscle areas and relieve overall soreness. If foam rolling is done regularly, it may save you trips to chiropractors or doctors.
Let’s use the analogy of going to the dentist. People only go to the dentist once or twice a year, but they brush their teeth and floss (hopefully) every day. Foam rolling is like brushing your teeth, only you are massaging your muscles every day instead. Consistent foam rolling can have a calming effect on the nervous system and help you increase your range of motion, while lessening muscle stress.
What Roller Should You Use?
If you are starting off, you don’t want a roller that is too soft and you definitely don’t want the one with bumps because that will murder your muscles. A firm, high-density foam roller will help to massage away the lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles when you exercise. Doing this essentially makes the muscles looser, rolling away the tension that is stored in the fascia, which is the connective tissue that wraps around all the muscles in the body. If the fascia is tight, knots or toxins can get lodged in it and make it thick, dense, and hard to relieve. If you need relief in your feet, you can always step on a tennis ball to reduce tension in the arch.
What Muscles Should You Roll?
For starters, don’t roll your throat, face, or ribcage. You can roll sensitive areas like your abdomen, but you have to be careful and avoid resting your entire bodyweight on the roller. The back is the most common area to foam roll because tension in the lower back can often induce ankle, knee, and hip pain. While it is also beneficial to roll your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and the IT band, rolling the entire back is always beneficial.
A Quick Note: If you are rolling the same body part, like your calves, several times a day to get rid of pain, then something isn’t right. Using the foam roller in this way is like applying a bandage to the wound, as opposed to addressing the problem. You can always look up full body foam rolling videos online to loosen all of your muscles.
Foam rolling is not something that you should rush through. Rushing through the process will not give you the described benefits. Think about the areas you are rolling and where the pain is in those areas. You may need to rest on a painful spot and move back and forth to massage the soreness.
However you roll, make sure to get it done for National Foam Rolling Day. Post a video of yourself foam rolling and tag us on social media!