Everybody loves a good massage – especially a deep tissue after an intense workout. But what if you can’t afford to fork out for regular pampering? Your prayers could be answered with a simple foam roller. It’s a DIY alternative to an expensive massage, and if you know your technique, it can be just as effective.
What is it?
‘Foam rolling’ is basically a form of self-massage done with… you guessed it, a foam roller. If you want to get really technical, the proper name for this technique is ‘Self-myofascial release’. Tight muscles? Knots? Overactive Muscles? Foam rolling is your answer. Rollers come in many different sizes and densities – if you’re a beginner, you should start with a softer roller and work your way up.
When do I use it?
So, how do you reap the foam rolling benefits? There are lots of situations you can use a foam roller in. The most obvious is to aid in recovery post-workout – just like a deep tissue massage. A foam roller is also great for warming up and cooling down before and after a workout, and you can even use one during your workout as a prop. A foam roller is the perfect all-rounder in your fitness regime!
What does it do?
If you’re using a foam roller post-workout, it can relax tight muscles and work out knots – think of it like the roller replacing a masseuse’s hands during a massage. Before a workout, the roller can be used to warm up the muscles and get your blood flowing to prevent injury. And afterwards? A foam roller helps your muscles drain lactic acid that has collected in your muscles (no more cramps!) It can even help to break up scar tissue and improve your flexibility – so it’s a win-win! The only seemingly bad thing about foam rolling is that it can be painful, just like a tissue massage. No pain, no gain – right?
- You can foam roll pretty much anywhere, but the most common areas are the hips, hamstrings, calves, lower back and glutes.
- To avoid making knots worse, don’t spend too long going over them – try rolling in the general area of the pain and sweep over the knots as you go.
- Make sure you don’t roll too fast, or you won’t feel the benefits. Rolling quickly over the area doesn’t give the foam roller any time to work it’s magic!
- Foam rollers also work as a preventative measure – try using it on parts of your body that are prone to pain and knots.
By all accounts, a foam roller is the cream of the crop when it comes to warming up and cooling down – it even has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Will you be heading out to buy one, or is the thought of someone else doing the massaging more appealing?