Have you ever seen a foam cylinder thing at the gym or sports store and wondered what on earth people use them for?
They are in fact known as foam rollers. Foam rollers are popular in the fitness industry for what is known as myofascial release. Fascia is a connective tissue that is thin, tough and elastic. It wraps around most structures within the human body, including your muscle to support and protect them. Over time, exercise (particularly if you overtrain) can cause your fascia to become sore and restricted. So too can immobility and sitting in the one position for too long (hello office workers). As a result your muscles can also become restricted in their movement too.
Myofascial release is a type of massage that can be done either:
- Before your exercise to loosen up sore muscles and tight joints or
- After you workout to assist in muscle recovery (this is heaven after going for a run!)
If you can do foam rolling correctly and effectively, its a wonderfully affordable alternative to paying for a massage.
Some of the benefits of foam rolling include:
- Prevent injury
- Reduce exercise induced soreness and pain
- Improved circulation
- Improved flexibility
- Stress reduction
Usually when you buy a foam roller they will have a little book of exercises you can do. There are also heaps of online resources too. I won’t lie to you. If you have muscle tightness like most of our population, foam rolling will hurt to start with! Start slowly and carefully.
Like with anything though, you need to do it properly to prevent causing an injury or exacerbating an existing condition. Here is a handy list of do’s and dont’s when foam rolling.
And listen to your body. If something doesn’t seem right or your pain increases, seek the advice of a health professional.
Give one a go!