Haven’t tried the foam roller yet? If you want to avoid injuries and improve performance, it’s time to start.
Yes, it looks awkward, and may feel awkward the first time you try it, but it works wonders on the body.
“It’s the closest thing to a miracle tool that’s been invented,” says Dr. Jason Jared DC. “It’s simple, it’s affordable, and you don’t need someone to help you use it. You’re just applying mechanical pressure using body weight and gravity.”
A good foam roller costs $12 – $30, depending on the size you get and the firmness of the roller. The roller measures about 6 inches in diameter and 18 – 36 inches in length, small enough to store easily in a closet or a corner. At TRIFACTIVE we sell the simple white rollers, and recommend the 36-inch roller because it can be used for upper and lower body work. These rollers are both affordable and effective.
This “miracle tool” can help you treat nearly any muscle. The dense roller does something stretching doesn’t, which is to apply direct pressure to knotted muscles. This will break up adhesions in muscles and release fascia as you slowly roll your body over it. Think of it like self-massage or self-myofascial release.
Use it for five minutes before and after your workout, rolling things out at a medium pace over the tissue you’re about to use in your workout. If you notice an area that’s tender or stiff, give it a little more focus to increase the blood flow to that area. In the tightest spots, you may want to hold yourself there for 30 to 60 seconds. Post-workout foam rolling has been shown to improve recovery times (in addition to the fact that it just feels good).
For beginners that won’t be easy, and it may even be difficult for experienced users on a particularly tender day, but it pays off.
“Once you learn how to work with it and give in to the tension, that’s when you start to see the benefits of it,” Dr. Jared says. “Most people think, ‘there’s no way I’m doing this,’ especially on the IT bands [found on the outside of the thigh]. I tell people to use it every day, or at least five days a week, but few people will. I just hope they start to use it a couple days a week.”
How to Use A Foam Roller
Though you could work your whole body with a foam roller nearly every day, you don’t have to be that committed to see benefits. You can reap rewards using it in targeted ways too.
When you’re using a foam roller, you want to target your most tender muscles. Roll slowly, moving back and forth until you find tender areas, then work those areas more, holding for 30 to 60 seconds until you feel the muscle relax and loosen up.
If you’re entirely new to the roller, try it with light pressure. As you get used to it, you’ll be able to add more and more pressure and get greater release from the movements.
Can I Get Injured Using A Foam Roller?
Don’t worry, there’s little risk of hurting yourself when using a foam roller properly.
“It’s very unlikely you could hurt yourself,” says Dr. Jared. “They’re just not that aggressive of a tool.”
Yes, it will feel different, maybe even a little painful, as you roll over your calves, tight quads, or hip flexors, but like a good massage, that pain soon brings release.
If you try a roller and are still unsure, swing by TRIFACTIVE and test it with our guidance, or consult a trainer at your gym.
The foam roller is not your cure-all, and it doesn’t replace the skills of a professional massage therapist. But it’s a great, affordable way to work out your kinks, increase blood flow, and release fascia if you know how to use it.