Have you ever had an intense workout, and felt like you could barely walk the next day? If so, you were in desperate need of foam rollers. Of course, physical activity is good for you, but the strain it leaves on our body is often painful. Not to mention, if you're an athlete or professional bodybuilder, stiff muscles are worse.
Luckily, there's a quick and easy solution for your aching body. A foam roller feels like a godsend when you're dealing with tense muscles. And most people don't have the luxury of seeing a masseuse after every visit to the gym; it's just not possible. With that said, if you're going to participate in frequent workouts, it's important to take care of yourself and prevent injury. If you've never used a foam roller, you might be on the fence about it. Hopefully, the information we provide will help you decide if it's right for you.
What Does A Foam Roller Do?
Regularly using a foam roller has the same benefits as a sports massage, and it helps to reduce inflammation, scar tissue and joint stress, as well as improved circulation and improved flexibility. Another name for foam rolling is self-myofascial release, and it's done by rolling the foam roller under each muscle group until you roll across a delicate area. Once you've found the sore spot, apply pressure on the tender area for 30–60 seconds. Regularly using a foam roller before and after a workout will prepare your muscles for exercise and also help with post muscle recovery.
Does It Really Work?
A recent study was performed to determine whether the effect of self-myofascial release by using a foam roller application would extend range of motion. This study is one of the first peer-reviewed studies on foam rolling, and it proved what many bodybuilders and powerlifters have been saying for a while, and that's foam rolling works.
It can help enhance joint range of motion and overall muscle recovery, and it does it without hindering muscle performance and strength. The biggest benefit of self-myofascial release is that it can be done entirely by the individual and is incredibly effective in that it can take as little as 30-60 seconds to target the desired muscle group.
The Benefits Of Foam Rolling
There are many health benefits to using foam rollers and it's not just about relieving tense muscles.
Increased Blood Flow
Myofascial release from doing foam rolling exercises helps to stretch and loosen muscles. By applying pressure to your muscles and connective tissue over time, blood is forced out and is replenished by a more fresh blood. Moreover, blood carries essential nutrients such as oxygen and glycogen to tired muscles. The greater amount of blood flow contributes to numerous beneficial results.
Hydrated and loose muscles move past one another with less friction. Which means throughout your workout, movements are smoother and muscles are less likely to pull or become damaged. Foam rolling prior to your workout as part of your warm-up is extremely beneficial for myofascial release.
Better Range Of Motion
Another advantage of self-massaging is the enhanced range of motion that comes from properly stretched and lubricated muscles. A wider range of motion means that more muscles are recruited during exercise, resulting in a more effective routine. Plus, better range of motion increased your flexibility.
Decreased Injury Risk
As previously stated, self-massage increases circulation throughout your body. Myofascial release from foam rolling reduces the risk of injury because it improves your coordination. This means that the chances of improper movement leading to injury is reduced dramatically. On the other hand, if an injury does occur, self-massaging can decrease recovery time.
Decreased Recovery Time
Foam rollers are an effective means of pulling blood to an injured area. After exercise, muscles and joints are sore due to build-up of waste products such as lactic acid. A self-massage washes acid away by recruiting fresh blood and nutrients to tired muscles when performed post-workout. The quicker that exhausted muscles receive the proper nutrients for recovery, the faster they can rebuild.
When Should You Use Foam Rollers?
Self-massage is best performed before and after a workout; by properly warming up muscles and loosening the body before exercising, the chances of injury are reduced. Self-massaging prior to your workout also has an indirect effect on increasing the effectiveness of your body post-exercise by retraining your muscle fibers. However, foam rolling after physical activity helps to speed recovery by flushing of waste products and increasing blood flow to fatigued muscles. With that said, no warm-up can prepare a body for a heavy workload like myofascial release.
Types Of Movements To Do On Foam Rollers
The convenience and simplicity of using foam rollers is amazing. It provides pain relief to any part of the body and can be used wherever relief is needed.
Foam Rolling The Back
Your back is the easiest area to foam roll and it feels amazing. If you sit in traffic or work at a computer everyday, you understand the tension that can build in the back. To release it and increase rotational flexibility, start by lying with the roller under your shoulder blades. Lying with your buttocks off the ground and your hands on your chest, roll in the direction of your head, stopping on any tender areas. Return to the start position and repeat. Make sure you support your neck and don’t put too much pressure on your spine.
Foam Rolling The IT Bands
The muscles on the side of the thigh is one of the most painful to foam roll. However, IT band myofascial release is very beneficial in providing relief for active people. To relieve pain in the IT bands, start in a side plank position with the roller right under your hip joint. Use your hands and off foot for support as you roll along the outer thigh down to the knee. When you find a sore area, stay there and let the weight of your body smooth out the kinks. Continue to roll until there are no more tight spots.
Foam Rolling The Calves
Your calves are an often forgotten muscle group in training and stretching. However, if you continue to neglect them it can lead to tight calves and poor ankle joint function. Start by position the roller on the calf muscle below the knee. Then, support your upper body with your hands, and bring your bottom off the floor. Roll over the calves to the ankles and back up to the knee. Repeat the process.
Foam Roll To Maximize Fitness
Self-myofascial release is a great way to easily and affordably enhance your overall health. Foam rollers can provide years of pain relief and injury prevention. You should think about adding foam rollers to your fitness arsenal. Your body will thank you for it, and hard work in the gym will be easier to do and less painful.
The price range is between $10 to $170 depending on the brand you get and the features of each roller. You can find a foam roller at a local retailer or on Amazon.
The Pros And Cons
How We Reviewed
We researched as much as we could about foam rollers and the health benefits of using them. We read fitness blogs and other sources to get in-depth information from people who use them frequently. Our goal was to find out whether the roller worked as advertised, so we also read through numerous customer reviews. Our ultimate decision was based on the fitness equipment with the best customer feedback.
The Best Foam Rollers
We looked for the best, top-rated rollers we could find so that hopefully you can find a product that works best for you and your fitness level.
This patented foam roller design offers premium, multi-density construction over a rigid hollow core. It's crafted from quality materials that won't cave in or lose shape from continuous use. It also includes a free online instructional video library on foam rolling from the experts at Trigger Point. Plus, this product is the trusted foam roller of athletes, massage therapists, coaches and trainers to provide pain relief and improved flexibility.
The price is between $30 to $40 and it comes with a one- year manufacturer's warranty. The customers on Amazon rated it 4.7 out of 5 stars. But according to one customer, this foam roller is hard as a rock and it hurts on sore muscles.
321 STRONG contains the best materials for rolling away muscle pain, and it also makes an incredible back massager. This heavy-duty roller is 13 x 5.5 inches and helps to improve your blood flow, circulation, recovery speed, and inflammation. Plus, it provides tension relief for your muscles at the trigger point for myofascial release.
The price ranges from $ 20 to $25 and comes with a lifetime warranty. The customers on Amazon gave it a 4.5 out of 5-star rating. But sadly for one reviewer, it was too narrow to sit on comfortably.
Luxfit high-intensity foam roller is perfect for physical therapy, pre and post workout, pilates, and massage therapy. Foam rollers help to relieve aching muscles and promote muscle reflexology. It contains polypropylene foam technology and has 2 pounds per cubic foot density and a smooth surface. Plus it comes in four sizes to fit different needs, with the sizes ranging from 12 inches to 36 inches. Black Foam Rollers are great for back pain, core stabilization, balance, and stamina.
The price ranges between $ 12 to $15 and the customers on Amazon gave it 4.7 out of 5 stars. However, according to one user, the speckles on the roller snag your clothes.
This foam roller comes in three sizes and it's great for travel. The premium material of this body rollers doesn't flake or lose its shape, and it's also eco-friendly and completely recyclable. Not to mention it's free of formamide and phthalate. You'll receive deep tissue therapy, myofascial release, and improve muscle mobility with this roller. You find relief from muscle tension in minutes, and if you don't you'll receive a full refund.
Foam rollers are recommended by medical professionals as a safe means of relieving neck and back pain; they also improve your core stabilization and enhance your sleep. Furthermore, foam rolling breaks up fat fibers and increases oxygenated blood flow which rejuvenates your skin and reduces fluid retention; so say goodbye to unsightly cellulite and bloating!
The price ranges from $40 to $50 and the reviewers in Amazon rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars. But per one customer, this roller is painful and uncomfortable.
Here's What We Think About Using A Foam Roller
After looking through tons of information about using foam rollers, we believe that they work. Unfortunately, for this list, we can't say which roller is the best. The reason being is because everyone has different tolerance levels. If you're someone who does yoga regularly, it might be painful for you to use the TriggerPoint roller. Whereas, if you bench press 400 pounds, you might require a roller that's more intense like the 321 STRONG.
With that said, we believe a foam roller is a good investment; especially if you exercise regularly. And even if you don't, sometimes your muscles just need to be relaxed. Therefore, we endorse it. After looking over this information, do you think a foam roller could benefit you?