Foam rolling is an excellent, yet brutal method of stretching out and massaging the muscles to promote recovery and improve flexibility. To be more specific, foam rolling is a somewhat cheaper alternative to achieving a deep tissue massage. This allows us to speed up the recovery process, along with many other benefits. Check it out:
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- Speeds up the recovery process: Stretching out on a foam roller helps to loosen our muscles, and promote blood flow. This increases the nutrients and minerals reaching our muscles that are needed for recovery.
- Breaks Up Scar Tissue: Foam rolling helps stretch connective tissues and improve circulation. It does this by breaking up interwoven fat fibres. This process helps prevent the formation of scars and cellulite and reduction of existing scars with the combination of diet and proper exercise.
- Improves Mobility and Flexibility: Building up your flexibility is key for any fitness routine, which means you constantly should be stretching and doing exercises that’ll help you gain flexibility, and foam rolling can result in very deep stretches.
- Can Be Used as a Workout Tool: Foam rollers come in many different shapes and sizes. Therefore they’re often used to elevate the feet and hips to perform certain exercises.
- Removes Lactic Acid to Aid Recovery: When we perform high intensity exercise, lactic acid builds up in our muscles. If left, this can hinder recovery time and result in aching after exercise. Think of foam rolling as pushing the lactic acid out of your system.
- Reduce the chance of injury: Common injuries such as pulled muscles and over stretches ligaments and tendons can be prevented. By foam rolling regularly, we can loosen up the muscles and reduce our chances of injury.
“Foam rolling limits soreness and tightness by increasing blood flow and flexibility,” says New Jersey-based personal trainer Francisco Cabreja. “When the muscles are tight, injuries such as tears are more likely to occur.”
- It can be quite brutal: As previously mentioned not all foam rollers were created equal; they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Smooth foam rollers are often a lot softer and subtle on the muscles. Where as those with jaggered bumps can be quite uncomfortable when rolling. It is good pain? Of course (I think). The best way to describe it, is a satisfying discomfort.
Here’s how to do it:
Foam rolling, just like any aspect of fitness has many variations. It can be done as part of your warm up/cool down, or in the workout it’s self. Here are 5 simple foam rolling exercises to get yourself started:
- Upper Back Roll
Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back.
- Groin Roll
Lie face down with one leg on top of a foam roller so that it rests against your inner thigh. Put as much weight onto the foam roll as you can tolerated. While trying to relax the inner thigh, roll over the area between your hip and knee.
- Hamstrings Roll
While seated, extend your legs and rest them on top of the foam roller. Place your hands to the side to help support your weight. Using your hands, lift your hips off of the floor and put your weight on the foam roll to one leg. Relax the hamstrings of the leg you are stretching. Roll over the foam from below the hip to above the back of the knee.
- Quadriceps Roll
Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roller underneath one leg and keep that foot off the ground. Put as much weight as you can onto the leg, and slowly stretch it out by rolling back and forth.
- Lower Back Roll
The lower back is very susceptible to injury, especially for those who spent all day sitting down. In a seated position, place a foam roller under your lower back. Raise your hips off of the floor and lean back, keeping your weight on your lower back. Now rock over back and forward, keeping your weight off of the spine and on the muscles to one side of it.
In conclusion foam rolling is the way to go. It is excellent for recovery, preventing injury, and improving and maintaining our flexibility. With it being so widely available, you really have no excuse! With all good gyms offering different variations, and being able to pick one up for no more than £12. They really are a cheap alternative to a deep tissue massage. Yes, it can be a little brutal. But and the end of the day, no pain no gain! Right?