Foam rollers are great for both releasing tension, and relieving stress.
When it comes to sports and fitness, the foam roller is a very handy tool to have around. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a foam roller is just a cylindrical piece of foam that you can use to stretch out your muscles before a workout, or release muscle tension after.
What most people don’t realize is that foam rollers have a much larger benefit for our muscles and joints, because they specifically target the fascia. I’m sure fascia is another alien word to most people, but in layman’s terms the fascia is just a thin layer of connective tissue underneath the skin that wraps around all your muscles and organs. It helps connect the muscles to both bones and joints, and basically gives us an extra layer of structural integrity that our bodies otherwise wouldn’t have.
Foam rolling helps keep the fascia hydrated and smoothed out which improves overall circulation, oxygenates the blood, boosts the lymphatic system and helps flush out toxins. It can also reduce inflammation, increase flexibility and range of motion, and improve overall fitness.
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Many people shy away from foam rollers because they can be painful. This can be a result of using the wrong roller, as most people start out with foam rollers that are harder than necessary. Try a soft roller first, but keep in mind that rolling should be a little painful. If you actually experience true pain from it however, either switch to a softer roller, or consult a physician as you might actually have a muscle injury. You know how after a good workout, you feel pain, but probably finding yourself uttering the phrase ‘…but it’s a good pain”? That’s how foam rolling should feel. It’s also best to start out with a roller that has a little texture, so you don’t have to worry about slipping.
Lastly, there are a few things you shouldn’t do, when foam rolling. Do not use a foam roller on bony areas, such as your upper spine or the bony part of your lower back. The goal is to roll out your muscles, not your bones. Make sure your body is doing most of the movement, but positioning yourself so you are creating the motion, with the roller staying stationary under you.
There are many different exercises you can do with a foam roller, so make sure you do your research to find the right regimen for you. Overall though, your body can only benefit from a properly executed foam roll now and then.
Your fascia will thank you!