Why a foam roller should be a part of your life, how to use one and other handy hints!
Foam rollers may have become a household essential for athletes, sporting clubs and gyms, however the benefits of this self-therapeutic tool may be great for anyone. Whether you spend hours on end slouching over a computer, you are a tradie grinding away on the tools or you are a new mum facing a world of new challenges, the foam roller can provide you instant relief that will have you in better shape. So whilst it is all well and good to throw on your latest sporting gear and have a roll around with this great tool, it’s also important to use it correctly and purchase the right foam roller for your body’s needs. I’d like to share with you a few key things to look for when purchasing a foam roller and also how to use it.
Types of foam rollers:
Firstly, you want to find a foam roller that is right for you. There are a range of different rollers, varying in degrees of density and texture. Due to the different materials used in the making of the rollers, the firmness can differ with each product. Along with different densities, you can also find rollers that range from smooth to dimpled, pointed bumps and even “finger-tip” surfaces, all of which can be very beneficial depending on your needs. So with that in mind, make sure to test a few out and get a feel for what is comfortable (and tolerable) for you. A mild density and smooth texture is a good place to start, you can always upgrade when you are feeling ready to.
The effect on the muscles:
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, a term used to describe the release of a tight muscle or trigger points (knots) in a muscle. By applying pressure through the muscle tissue, you are able to manipulate the fibres, restoring them to normal resting length and back to normal function.
The way foam rolling works:
Through the application of direct pressure to the muscle tissue, the roller acts in a similar way to deep tissue massage. The deep pressure helps to break up adhesions (which may be caused by exercise or stress) that are formed around the muscles, allowing the muscle to relax and feel nice and supple.
Whilst the “tenderizing” of the muscle is the main effect caused by foam rolling, there are also a few other benefits on the muscle:
When to use foam rolling and when to stop:
Muscle tension, reduced flexibility, sore or aching muscles, bad posture or an increased exercise regime, if any of this sounds like you, the use of a foam roller will be a great addition to your daily routine. If you are new to the sensation of foam rolling, it is important that you start off by applying light pressure with the roller and focus on a broader surface rather than a pinpoint hot spot.
When identifying an area to roll out, it is best to look for tightness in the muscle or trigger points in the muscle, both of which can present in the form of mild pain and discomfort- this is where you want to go to work. In these circumstances, pain isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but may be an indication that the muscle needs to be released.
As always when it comes to caring for your body, you should remain cautious and try to avoid boney areas and joints, this is particularly important around the hips, knees and shoulders. These areas have a lot of other structures like tendons, bursa and fat pads that don’t respond well to direct pressure. So stick to the main muscle groups to avoid getting yourself into trouble.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to look forward to when using a foam roller, but there are also a few things to be cautious of as well. To get the most out of your self- myofascial release, stick to the basics until you feel confident enough to dig a little deeper and experiment with you foam roller.