So, what exactly is this “foam rolling” we speak of?
A foam roller is a device made of—you guessed it—foam. They come in many shapes, sizes, and intensities and are typically used as a muscle relaxation technique in the health and fitness world. Foam rolling has proven beneficial to newbie fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes alike, so we wanted to dig a little deeper and see what the buzz was about. Luckily, we had the pleasure of talking to an expert some questions about a few things you should know.
1. There Are Benefits on Benefits
Overall, foam rolling has a positive effect on the body in terms of muscle tissue, growth, and repair. It reduces post workout soreness, improves breathing capacity, prevents chronic back pain, lowers your blood pressure, brings more oxygen to damaged muscle tissue, and the list goes on and on.
However, owner and founder of Atlas Foam Roller and Stretch Therapy, Mark Harman, says there are a few unconventional benefits that many are unaware of:
- It improves posture thus positively affecting bowel movement.
- It releases tons of endorphins.
- Oddly enough, it moves gas in your gut so you can eliminate that “bloating gut feel.”
- It improves libido.
- It helps rid the lungs of congestion.
2. No Muscles Left Behind
Because the nature of foam rolling can sometimes be intense, many believe that it can do more bad than good, but Harman says it actually helps with injury recovery and prevention.
“All areas can be safely foam rolled with specific techniques,” says Harman, “even though people are commonly told to avoid the neck and lower back areas.” Targeting the lower back can actually release lower back tension, a common problem a lot of people experience everyday.
3. Time Isn’t an Excuse
Thats right! You can get all the benefits of foam rolling by only doing it for five to ten minutes a day.
Harman says the best way to go about developing a schedule is to simply roll out five minutes when you wake up and five minutes right before bed. If you’re injured, you should foam roll for at least 30 – 60 minutes per day combined with a good stretching routine for at least one week.
4. All Rollers Are Not Created Equal
There are two different styles of foam rollers: textured (bumpy) and non-textured (smooth.) Each style can either be high-density, medium-density, or very soft-density. Each person will be different in deciding which foam roller to choose because factors like pain tolerance, necessity, and concerns differ from person to person.
If you are new to foam rolling and are slightly hesitant in using a high density roller, give a softer one a try. Once your flexibility has improved, take a swing at a medium density roller.
5. Taking a Class vs. Doing It On Your Own
Taking a foam rolling class can be a good way to get into the swing of things especially if you are a beginner. A lot of YouTube videos and online tutorials often don’t have the same capabilities as a hands-on learning experience would. Ineffective sessions done at home without proper training can cause new issues and injuries to arise.
If done correctly, foam rolling is healing technique that you can do anywhere, anytime.