You may be asking yourself, “What is this ‘foam rolling’ thing you speak of?”
Ladies and gents, if you’ve never foam rolled before, I am happy to introduce you to something that just might become your new best recovery friend.
Foam Rolling: Not Your Grandma’s Version of Stretching
Foam rolling, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: The “foam” in question is a foam log, if you will, that’s usually either very similar in size to a rolled-up yoga or gym mat, or about a foot and a half long by, say, 6″ wide.
The “rolling” part happens when you literally roll your limbs or body across the foam log to basically work the kinks out.
In more fancy terminology, foam rolling is also referred to as “self-myofascial release.” If that sounds horrifying, it’s actually not.
To me, foam rolling is kind of like a really good massage.
You know when you grit your teeth as the masseuse works out a knot in your muscle and you think to yourself, “Aaah! It hurts so GOOD!”? You definitely can (and will) experience that with foam rolling.
Unlike a massage though, it requires a bit more participation on your end as you basically move yourself around (or rest on) the foam roll.
While it’s not always the most pleasant of feelings to work out those kinks in your musculature, the benefits from foam rolling are pretty undeniable.
Not only can it help your muscles recuperate more quickly, it also helps with your overall flexibility, smooth functioning, and even with stress relief. AND, it can help you prevent injury. #amazing
And heck, while I know we can’t exactly hire our own live-in masseuse, it’s great to know that you have the ability to heal and recover more quickly from all that awesome working out that you’re doing.
You can do it every day, and if you’re running around all the time like a lot of people I know, it’s pretty awesome to be able to decompress and slowly work things out with your good ole trusty foam roller.
Start That Roll!
You can get foam rollers from almost any major fitness store, and I’ve even seen them in Whole Foods.
Most foam rollers come with their own instruction booklets, and I definitely encourage you to consult that when you’re first getting used to foam rolling. There are also some great videos on YouTube.
When rolling, remember that you’re supposed to do it slooooowly. Whizzing over the roll quickly to get it over with won’t exactly reap the kinds of results I mentioned above.
Also keep in mind that it can be (and usually is) mildly unpleasant in some areas (like your IT band), but like a massage, breathing through it yields awesomeness.
Remember that you generally should not roll your joints, and a few trainers I’ve talked to also recommend not rolling your lower back or directly on a bone.
As with any physical activity or exercise, though, you know your body best. If something really hurts or just doesn’t feel right, stop what you’re doing and check with your doctor or a physiologist to make sure you’re rolling the right way.
Have you tried foam rolling? Do you have any workout recovery techniques you just can’t live without? I’d love to hear about ’em!