Once a recovery method used only by professional athletes, foam rolling has quickly been adopted in the recreational fitness world. Foam rolling does what no amount of stretching can accomplish — releases the knots deep in your muscles. It is an important recovery exercise that should not be skipped.
What is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling involves sitting or lying on a foam cylinder that ranges from 12-36 inches in length and 6 inches in diameter. It is a fairly inexpensive piece of equipment well worth the investment.
The official term for foam rolling is self-myofascial release. Backed by science, foam rolling goes beyond stretching — it loosens deep muscle knots from overused or improperly recovered areas of muscle to improve mobility. When you exercise, tiny micro-tears are created in the fascia, building up muscle. If there are too many micro-tears, it creates a knot. Stress and dehydration (both common conditions) also cause knots.
To see a picture of a healthy muscle fiber versus a contracted muscle knot, click here.
Why foam rolling is important
If untreated, knots decrease your ability to perform exercises and increase your risk of injury. Knots can also be painful and make it difficult to perform regular daily tasks.
Foam rolling solves these issues. Do you have tightness in your glutes? Lay a foam roller down on the ground and sit on it. Slowly roll around on your glute until you find the area that is the most painful to put pressure on—don’t forget to roll on the upper and side glutes, as these areas are often the most knotted. Now stay in that position! Keep putting pressure on the area until you feel the knot loosen or release. You will know that this has happened when it is not as painful to sit on the roller. Usually, 1-2 minutes of pressure does the trick.
Click here for several different foam rolling positions.
Proper foam rolling form and where to find one
You will often see people foam rolling back and forth over an area. This is incorrect form. The best way to treat knots is to position the roller so it presses on the area of tightness, and hold it there. It’s that easy! To see exactly how to foam roll properly, watch this YouTube video.
You can find foam rollers at Target, any sporting goods store or Amazon.com. If you muscle tightness persists even after a thorough stretch session, foam rolling is a great way to ease your muscles.
For more tips about how to roll specific muscles, check out this article. For a comprehensive guide to foam rolling, click here. You should make foam rolling part of your daily routine. It is an important recovery practice that is crucial to being able to perform in the gym!
Want to learn more about the best practices for taking care of your body? Check out Body Fit St. Louis. We offer at-home, private personal training throughout the St. Louis area. We bring the equipment and expertise straight to the comfort of your own home. Try us today!