Have you ever heard of foam rolling and all of the supposed benefits that are supposed to come with it but don’t know how to get started?
If so, then this guide is for YOU because today we’ll be breaking down what it is, the benefits, how to use a foam roller, as well as some other pro tips to make the most of it.
Foam rolling isn’t complicated and should be rather enjoyable once you get the hang of it.
This guide will be especially important if you’re an athlete, sports player, or anyone looking to enhance their physical performance and upgrade their recovery.
So, with all that said, let’s get into it!
What Is Foam Rolling?
This consists of getting a long, cylindrical-shaped piece of hardened foam and “rolling” out your muscles.
For example, if you wanted to foam roll your hamstrings, you’d rest your leg on top of the roller and “roll” or rock back and forth in a fluid motion.
This simple movement can DRASTICALLY help with muscle aches, recovery and more as we’ll talk about in the next section.
It’s also often used before a workout to enhance muscular performance and get warmed up, or even after a workout to help “cool down” the muscles and help them relax.
Whatever you choose to do, It’s highly recommended that you get some sort of rolling into your daily schedule, and here’s why…
Benefits Of Foam Rolling
As said earlier, foam rollers are often used by high-intensity athletes and sports players.
In fact, when I used to play basketball semi-professionally, the coach/physical therapist would often recommend that I foam roll as often as possible to maximize recovery and performance.
Now, just because foam rollers are mainly used by athletes and whatnot, doesn’t mean that being an athlete is a requirement.
In fact, everybody can benefit from adding rolling into their routine, as the benefits apply the same to everyone.
Here’s a list of the most common benefits of foam rolling:
- Improves recovery
- Helps blood flow
- Helps evenly distribute lactic acid throughout the muscle
- Improves flexibility [R]
- Improves overall physical performance [R]
- And more…
This is so beneficial that I’ve made it a staple of my personal night routine.
Every night about half an hour before bed, I’ll foam roll for about 10 minutes.
I find that this helps tremendously in relieving tightness, and allows me to sleep SO much better when I do.
If you’re someone who deals with a lot of aches and soreness, whether you’re an athlete or have any sort of related health condition, then this exercise will help you MASSIVELY.
One of the best parts about a foam roller is that the basic ones are often dirt cheap and can last YEARS before any sort of noticeable breakdown occurs.
Who Should Use A Foam Roller?
Athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone who engages in high levels of physical activity are among the group of people who should absolutely be using a foam roller.
However, as talked about earlier, the benefits of rolling can be passed down to anyone who uses them…
These people will benefit most from foam rolling:
- Sports Players
- Cross Fit Enthusiasts
- Yoga Enthusiasts
- People Who Work Out Regularly
- People With Excess Soreness
- People Looking For A Tool To Relax
Foam rollers are particularly helpful for anyone who suffers from aching, soreness, or muscle tightness.
It also makes a fantastic way to “tone” your muscles by helping them develop in an even manner due to the way that foam rolling distributes lactic acid.
If you’re a bodybuilder looking to get an aesthetic physique, this helps massively in maintaining excellent proportions.
The only people who SHOULDN’T use a foam roller, are people with extreme tightness, or aches, as a foam roller would likely just be painful.
If this is the case, it’s best to check with your doctor for the best available treatment.
If this does not apply, however, then a foam roller is a fantastic addition to your routine, whether used for warming up or cooling down.
How To Use A Foam Roller
Using a foam roller is actually very simple but many people try to overcomplicate the process.
Simply rest whatever muscle you intend to roll on top of the foam roller…
Then after applying a bit of pressure towards the ground, begin to “roll” the foam roller against your sore or aching muscles.
Here’s a list of the best and most beneficial areas to foam roll:
- Achilles Tendon
- Upper Back
Whatever you decide to work on, you should try to do at least 8 rolls per muscle, meaning 8 rolling up the muscle and 8 rolling down, on each side of the body.
It shouldn’t be painful, at the most it should be a bit uncomfortable at first because you’re working out the knots in the muscle, but it should NEVER be painful.
However, if the muscle your rolling is unusually painful, then it may need extra attention.
Instead of applying more pressure, simply add more rolls with lighter pressure until the knot loosens up.
Again, at first, it might be slightly uncomfortable, but after each roll, the muscle will get more and more relaxed until eventually, it becomes a rather enjoyable experience.
The feeling after foam rolling your entire lower body and then standing up is AMAZING.
You don’t truly realize how tight your muscles are on average until you loosen them up.
How Often Should You Use A Foam Roller?
Foam rolling is one of those cases where you can actually use it as much as you want with virtually zero consequences.
In fact, you can utilize this every single day, multiple times a day and still get massive benefits from it.
As said earlier, you can use it before a workout to help loosen and warmup the muscles, or even after a workout to help calm the muscles down and improve your recovery.
But foam rolling doesn’t just have to be used in the context of working out, as has been stressed many times throughout this article.
You could add it to a part of your morning routine to help loosen the muscles that got stiff while sleeping.
Or you could even use it before bed to relax your muscles which will help you fall asleep faster and help you sleep deeper and longer due to the relaxation of often tense muscles.
On top of that, it’s also a fantastic activity to engage in before any sort of stretching!
Things To Avoid When Foam Rolling
One of the most common mistakes to avoid when rolling is overdoing it.
Oftentimes people want to make sure that they truly work out ALL the knots in the muscle. This means that they might end up rolling one particular muscle for minutes at a time.
While nothing is inherently wrong with this, it’s important to make sure that you won’t be doing anything too physically intensive afterward.
Over-foam-rolling can lead your muscles to become TOO relaxed, meaning that they will not be able to perform nearly as well.
This is why if you’re an athlete looking to foam roll before a big game, it’s important you do just enough to enhance blood flow within your muscles to improve performance.
If you are getting ready for any sort of intense physical activity it’s recommended that you do no more than 10 rolls per muscle group, as any more could lead to performance issues,
One last thing to avoid when rolling is any sort of pain.
At most, this form of stretching should only be slightly uncomfortable as you work out knots in your muscles, and it should progressively get more relaxing with each roll.
Foam rolling should never be painful. If you are feeling pain when foam rolling, then chances are you are applying too much pressure which would do more harm rather than good.
Take it easy and slowly. If you are foam rolling correctly it should be a rather enjoyable experience, not a pain-ridden one.
Foam Rolling & Stretching
One of the best ways to utilize the full benefits of a foam roller is to foam roll before stretching.
The idea behind it is that rolling loosens up the muscles and “prepares” them so to speak for stretching.
Oftentimes you can expect your stretches to be much deeper and more satisfying if you foam roll beforehand.
Studies show that stretching before a yoga practice also reduces the risk of any potential injury that may come from overstretching. [R]
In fact, doing this exercise before stretching is extremely beneficial for athletes who need to make sure that they are not only getting the most out of their stretches but to make sure that they are staying safe while doing so, lest they risk a season-ending tear or injury.
Overall, stretching and rolling by themselves are both great means to improve physical performance, and reduce the risk of injuries.
But when you combine them together, the results will TRIPLE.
Guide To Foam Rolling: Summary
In the end, foam rolling can be a phenomenal tool to help you with any goals you may have regarding your health and or athletic performance.
Remember that the best times to foam roll are right before a workout, right after a workout, or in the morning or evening.
Keep up a good diet, still get plenty of sleep and you’re bound to see positive results on your journey.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this article and found the information within useful.
Make sure to check out The Gym Bros for even more great articles on improving performance and achieving your goals!
Until next time.