Foam rollers, they are not probably on your list of your ‘must-have fitness items’ in your cache of fitness equipment. It is common for a fitness enthusiast to write off foam rolling as a ‘corrective measure’ instead of an excellent way to get in shape and take your fitness to the next level.
Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. A friend of mine suggested to buy a foam roller a few months back, it was cheaper at the time to buy 2 online as we got a pretty nice discount. I researched it for a bit and then lost interest, just thinking it was another fitness equipment ‘fad’ going around.
After a few days, my friend got her foam roller delivered and I tried it and I was a tad jealous (ok maybe not a tad, maybe very jealous). Using a foam roller isn’t just a new ‘fad’, using one is amazabells! Hence, why I am talking about it today; surprising when I bring it up with my circle of friends, people have heard about it but don’t really know much about foam rolling.
Now I am not trying to sell you the idea of a foam roller but take it from me, I thought it was nothing really, just a piece of foam in the form of a log, I thought, how could this be something that people are actually ravving about.
Once you get down on this foam roller and you make it work for you, you won’t believe the effect it can have on you and once you start reading more about it, it’s actually very very healthy to use. I used the foam roller on my back as I find my back get’s very tight and the feeling I get when I use it is indescribable how this ‘log’ just works for you.
My friend primarily purchased the foam roller as she has a stiff and bad neck, she gets neck pain and also headaches. This has come from muscle stiffness in her upper back. Slowly, slowly, using the foam roller everyday, her neck aches and headaches are subsiding as she is relieving the tension in her back by using the foam roller
However, you can use the foam roller on any body part you want, it’s not just limited to the back. Most people use the foam roller for the entire body including relieving shoulder pain, hip pain, back pain and relieving muscle tenderness and tightness in the legs, calves, back, shoulders arms and chest.
The fact that it just ‘works’ based on the pressure that you wish to place, you are targeting the areas that you want just based on your own body weight.
What is a Foam Roller Exactly?
As the name implies, foam rollers are a large ‘log’ made of compacted foam that is vaunted for its efficacy by professional athletes. Yep, that’s right, professional athletes have for many years harnessed the goodness of these, sometimes not too cushy, foam rollers are used to improve their performance during their professional events.
Not to be fooled by its minimalist no frills appearance, a foam roller is the most versatile, inexpensive but very valuable of gym equipment available. Think of it as a substitute for a massage therapist minus the exorbitant fees. A foam roller ‘irons out’ the wrinkles in your rumpled muscles. It helps relieve tension in your connective tissue leaving you with ‘baby soft’ muscle as well as working out the kinks and knots in sore muscles. Once you get one, you will realise how good self massage really is.
When Should You Use a Foam Roller?
Foam rollers are typically used during your pre-work out warm up to relax your muscles – allowing you to go deeper in whatever exercises you are currently doing.
This invariably leads to more productive workout sessions. The post- work out foam rolling should be gentle and light compared to a pre work out rolling – you shouldn’t go deep after a workout session.
Foam Rolling Helps Build a Strong Core
“You need a strong core!” These words are uttered by every strength coach in the gyms across the world. Foam rolling is a great way to strengthen your core also.
How you ask? Well, a foam roller is a curved, unstable surface that can be used as a substitute for a Bonsu trainer or stability ball when you need to improve your balance and fire up you core muscles.
It also doubles up as a strength training tool to engage key muscles – abs, thighs, arms, and butt, when they need toning. In addition to correcting muscle imbalances, foam rollers are instrumental in improving posture and frequent usage has been found to increase your range of motion.
You can also do some great exercises using a foam roller, I will put these together and post these up shortly. You can do some great workouts on your abs and butt.
Foam Rollers Relieve Muscle Pain and Tension
A foam roller is a cheap and convenient way to relieve those body pains that have got you so wound up and uncomfortable. Using a foam roller increases blood flow to the affected tissues and is ranked as #1 home remedy for a stiff and sore body.
They are also known to quickly reduce pain and tension by stretching tendons and muscles in the body. Many people, however, wait till they have a tight spot in their muscle and then simply ‘roll’ it out.
Incorporate the foam roller into every workout routine and a prevent the ‘trouble spots’ in your muscles from occurring. Even a few minutes of usage, a day have been proven effective.
Foam rollers operate on the principle of pressure – they make use our own body weight, which, when we gently press on the foam roller, it exerts the pressure that provides deep tissue massage.
So How Do You Roll?
Place your foam roller on your training mat and consciously lower your body on the foam roller, then rock gently back and forth – slowly.
The most important thing when using a foam roller is to use it slowly. Do not exert fast movements.
The slower the movement the better.
When you get to areas of the body that are painful or tight, hold your positions for a few moments, applying moderate pressure. Remember though, the goal here is to get your muscle working properly; it is not a pain tolerance test.
Keep the initial sessions short till you master the techniques for the different body parts and you’ll be on your way to pain-free heaven.
The Best Foam Roller
With so many varieties of foam rollers available it is quite confusing about what to settle on, so you need to make sure you buy the right one.
So for starters, as a beginner, you should get a foam roller the same as the photo above. You shouldn’t settle for grid rollers; they are more for professional muscle bound athletes, not for people like you and me.
You should instead settle for the varieties that have a ‘softer feel’ and are not built like cogwheels or monster truck tires, hence why we have recommended the one above. The less dense foam rollers are, they are not only more gentler but are better for regular gym-junkies or exercise freaks like you and me.