What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR). SMR is a term for releasing tight muscles, connective tissue (fascia) and trigger points (sensitive points on muscles) with self-massage. Using a tool like a foam roller to apply pressure to these areas often helps relieve tight muscles.
Why should I foam roll?
Recent studies have shown that foam rolling before or after a workout does have its benefits. In addition to relieving tight and sore muscles, it also improves joint range of motion and overall muscle performance. Here are more reasons why you should use a foam roller:
It’s a great way to warm up. Using a foam roller before exercise gets your body warmed up by increasing blood flow to the muscles you’re rolling. So, if you’re about to do a killer leg workout, you’ll benefit from rolling those quads, hamstrings, and calves.
It’ll improve the quality of your workouts.When muscles aren’t restricted by tightness, the body can move with more ease and perform exercises correctly.
You’ll be less sore later. Studies suggest that foam rolling after a workout can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), meaning you’ll recover a little faster and possibly improve your performance in future workouts.
Foam rolling benefits
It’s time to get a little more specific about the benefits of foam rolling. In addition to warming your body up and reducing soreness, this self-massage technique can:
Reduce pesky knots.Intense exercise can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness . When you feel sore, you’re essentially feeling pain from microtrauma (tiny tears) in the muscle fibers. Oftentimes, as your body repairs the muscles, small knots form. Foam rolling helps align the muscle fibers and reduce discomfort as the body repairs itself.
Flush toxins. Another way foam rolling helps alleviate soreness is by moving lactic acid and carbon dioxide — toxins built up during exercise — out of the muscles and tissues, and into the lymphatic system.
Improve circulation. We touched on this above — foam rolling increases blood circulation, which in addition to warming your body up, helps muscles repair faster.
Help range of motion.Your range of motion often decreases during exercise and strength training. This is because as muscles grow, they constrict and shorten during recovery. Connective tissue also thickens and tightens in an effort to protect the muscles. Foam rollers aid in the release of tension, allowing muscles to lengthen and return to their original size. This, in turn, improves range of motion.
Why does foam rolling hurt?
Let’s get real, foam rolling isn’t the most relaxing activity out there. In fact, for some, foam rolling is quite painful. However, our coaches say that foam rolling shouldn’t hurt to the point where you’re nearly in tears. Instead, it should feel uncomfortable or similar to muscle soreness, but not something you can’t push through.
But, why does it hurt? During exercise, our muscle tissues tear and rebuild themselves. Applying pressure to these tender areas stimulates our body’s pain receptors, but it shouldn’t be an unbearable level of pain. In fact, if you do feel sharp, sudden pain, it’s best to contact a doctor or sports therapist to see if you actually have an injury.
Should I feel sore after foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that is supposed to help with DOMs, not cause more. If you are sore after foam rolling, it’s most likely because of your workout, not the foam roller. But, there’s also a chance that you’re doing it incorrectly.
We have created some short demonstration videos below to help guide you in your Foam Rolling practice.
While foam rolling is great to do on your own, if you have any nagging injuries or suspect a pulled muscle, always consult your doctor before adding foam rolling to your exercise routine.