For the longest time, I had seen foam rollers in all kinds of stores – even the ones where you wouldn’t expect to find them! I’ve heard friends rave about them and I’ve heard about how amazing they are, but I always thought they looked funny and I never understood why someone would want to roll around on a piece of foam and how that could feel so great. Finally I had a friend that really sold me on them when I was training for my half marathon and I went down to a local sporting goods store and picked one up.
My honest first impression? Not a good one. I had no idea how to use it at first and thought it was really uncomfortable and awkward.
After hearing all the hype, I really wanted to see if I would ever like it, so I gave it another chance and started to use it morning and night. Over time, I started to notice a big difference! I have some really bad lower back problems and rolling for even 5-10 minutes a day made all the difference in releasing the tension in my back. I also started to notice that my muscles weren’t as sore when I consistently used the roller. And on the days that I don’t use the roller? My body feels it big time!
Foam rolling not only helps you to warm up before working out, but it also helps your body to cool down and recover effectively. Some of the other benefits of foam rolling include:
- Improved blood circulation
- Reduced muscle tightness
- Reduced pain
- Reduced soreness
- Increased flexibility
- Helps to prevent injuries
- Helps with de-stressing
- Helps to build core muscles
When I looked into why foam rolling feels so good and why it works, I found that our muscles are covered with a thin, plastic-like layer called fascia. Sometimes the fascia bunches up and when we roll our muscles out, it releases the tension in the fascia and relaxes our muscles. There are also exercises you can do on a foam roller that will help you to build core strength.
Aim to roll 5-20 minutes daily. Use a roller on any part of your body; I’ve found that it works really well on my quads, hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, and back. Try to roll slowly over the pressure points in your muscles for about 30 seconds to a minute. It can be sometimes be painful, but the longer you do it the more effective it will be. When I have a really sore spot I try and focus on that area longer until the tissue loosens and starts to break down.
Below are a few different roller options. Some people go for color or for the more extreme massage patterns, but that is entirely up to you! There are a few different lengths as well; all will work similarly, but I am using an 18 inch roller and it seems to be the perfect length!
J-Fit High Density Foam Roller (This is the one I currently have)