Foam Rolling

Foam rollers have been on the fringes of fitness for decades, but have finally arrived front and center. Classes at fitness centers integrate on foam rolling training into their classes. Foam rolling raises levels of athletic flexibility and performance, lower soreness related to workouts, reduce time spent recovering, and get rid of muscle pain. Rollers are extremely versatile and inexpensive equipment items.

What Is Foam Rolling?

Foam rolling generally refers to the use of a foam roller to aid in self-massage.  A process more formally called myofascial release. These exercise devices tend to be cylindrical and long, but they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and textures. They focus on helping to soothe areas that are tight and sore as well as speeding up the recovery of muscles. Proper technique requires slow rolling with pressure applied to the target area directly.

How Does Foam Rolling Affect Fascia?

The process works at releasing the tension in that connective tissue.  Massaging the tissue to increase the range of motion of your muscles, add to flexibility, aid blood circulation, improve the integrity of muscle tissues, and break down knots and tightness in muscles. Rolling before exercise boosts performance, and rolling after eases and limits soreness.

What Are Signs of Needing to Foam Roll?

Trigger points and tight muscles are indicators of needing to foam roll. A trigger point is a particular knot that has formed in the muscles. It is unique because of its characteristic of pain referral. This occurs when pressure is applied to one part of the body but the pain is noticed in another area.  A foam roller provides the opportunity for the user to control the recovery and healing process by utilizing pressure in the exact precise location needed. The benefit in self-massage, or self-myofascial release, is that the user alone can tell precisely where the pain is, where pain triggers, and what motions at which moment ease that pain.

Different Types of Foam Rollers and Their Purposes

There are many foam rollers on the market.  Some are intended for self-massage.  Others are geared for Yoga, Pilates, or core-strengthening workouts. These latter tend to work by creating difficulty in balancing, forcing the users to focus on their cores and stabilize themselves. Density is a core feature of choosing a foam roller too.  Harder foam rollers create more intense, deeper massages, breaking up constricted fascia more thoroughly. Softer foam rollers provide gentler experiences. A skilled massage therapist or fitness expert can help determine which density is right for an individual’s needs.

You can do your foam roller research here.

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