It’s true. Every athlete, especially runners, should have at least one foam roller in their workout arsenal. They might look like misplace pool toys but the ultimate self massage tool is more than just a big foam cylinder. Here are the basic reasons you’ll want to add one to your workout routine.
First thing first, what exactly does a foam roller get used for? Foam rolling, of course. Foam rolling is a form of self massage also know as myofasical release. The soft tissues that support and protect muscles are called fascia. During a hard workout these fibers can become inflamed and their ability to function restricted. That inflammation leads to sticky spots knows as adhesions between the muscle fiber and the fascia. Those adhesions result in decreased blood flow, tight muscles, soreness and pain. Hitting these inflamed areas with a foam roller, or rolling them, presses on and stretches the fascia, helping to release the adhesions and ease pain.
Using your favorite foam roller after a workout is one of the best ways you can prevent soreness and stiffness while aiding in quicker muscle recovery. You can also use your it before a workout. Foam rolling during your warm-up will increase blood flow to muscle groups that are going to work while breaking up any leftover adhesions from the previous day or days.
Not only will 15 minutes with your foam roller get your body back on track for your next workout, it’s one of the best ways to prevent IT Band Syndrome and can improve mobility and lower your risk of injury at the same time. You can foam roll all of the major muscle groups, being sure to avoid the lower back and any injured areas and hit smaller muscle groups with different tools like Trigger Point Balls and Supernovas. There are lots of options out there, so play around and find the one that works best for your body and the intensity of your training program. Any way you decide to hit your hard working muscles, you’ll be saving yourself lost training time and money spent dealing with injuries.
For help getting started with your newest fitness toy, check out our Foam Rolling 101 video and help those tired muscles feel better today!