Foam rollers come in many different styles, shapes and densities. Some have a soft surface, some are very solid, there are half-rolls, short, long, spongy or plastic, and rollers with knobby edges or grooves when you need to reach those deeper structures. I use a foam roller regularly as part of my fitness and workout routine, and I recommend using one for all of my clients.
Benefits of Using Foam Rollers
Most of you have at least seen somebody using a foam roller at some point at your gym, but if you have never used one, you may want to start. It is a form of self-myofascial release, which is just a fancy way of saying ‘self-massage’. Foam rollers (and trigger point balls) are designed to enable you to apply deep, firm pressure to areas of the body that may be overly tight, or overactive that might be causing you pain. Runners utilize foam rollers the most for their legs and IT Band as part of their regular maintenance routine. Let’s face it, massage therapy can be a little expensive and it can be difficult to get in for regular maintenance massage as often as your active lifestyle would require, so a foam roller can provide you some relief at much less cost. Below is a list of benefits that come from using a foam roll consistently:
- Improved Flexibility by lengthening short/tight muscles, tendons and reducing myofascial adhesions/restrictions.
- Increased Circulation
- Reduces the risk of overuse injuries
- Increased, and more efficient nutrient/waste exchange at the cellular level through increased circulation
- Reduces Muscle Imbalances
- Pain Reduction
Foam rollers can be used for many stability, balance, and core strengthening exercises as well. They are a very versatile piece of equipment, and the use of one should be incorporated into everybody’s workout program. They aren’t just for gym rats. However, using one is kind of like stretching. Meaning, you aren’t really going to benefit from using a foam roller unless you use it regularly. Many people buy one and it collects dust in their garage. It should be used multiple times a week, and especially after a workout to ease those tight muscles.
Most areas on your body can be worked on using a foam roller or trigger point ball. Youtube is an excellent source for videos demonstrating proper use and technique for the areas you feel would need work. Your sports massage therapist can help you as well, so don’t be afraid to ask what they would recommend for you. I regularly demonstrate, and instruct foam roller exercises for my clients to do at home as part of my practice.