Foam Rolling: What It Is and Why You Should Do It

men foam rolling
Credit: Livestrong

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about fitness and nutrition.  From the timing of your post-workout meal to the types of exercises you should use to build strength, opinions vary greatly.  Stretching is one of those areas that constantly causes debate.  Some people skip it altogether while others prefer more static stretching.  But the most savvy gym goers have incorporated foam rolling into their routines.  If you’re not familiar, these are the people rolling all around the gym floor on top of a black tube.  It might look strange, and it might even hurt when you first start, but foam rolling should be part of your daily life.  It isn’t just for fitness fanatics.

What Is A Foam Roller?

what is a Foam Roller
Source: Pixabay

A foam roller is a tubular exercise device designed to assist with self-myofascial release.  Though self-myofascial release sounds complex it’s actually just a fancy way to say self-massage.  With the foam roller, you can ease muscle tightness and work on trigger points.  And you don’t need a masseuse.

Why Is Foam Rolling Necessary?

men foam rolling calves
Credit: Men’s Health

Odds are you have tight muscles and trigger points.  Whether you’re a weekend warrior, cardio king, or aspiring powerlifter, your body has its limits.  Foam rolling helps you break through those limits by restoring your functionality.  When your muscles are tight, your movement is restricted.  This leads to incorrect form.  Incorrect form leads to injury.

Furthermore, foam rolling is a more effective pre- and post-workout aid than static stretching.  Static stretches can actually “freeze” your muscles.  Stretching a cold muscle alerts the body to a disturbance, and in turn, it hurts your workout.  Foam rolling engages those muscles and gets them moving.

How to Foam Roll

There are dozens upon dozens of foam rolling stretches.  So, there’s no single directive on how to do it.  But generally speaking, you’ll let your muscle rest on top of the foam roller, apply pressure, and roll your body back and forth.  How you stabilize the rest of your body (i.e. your hands, stacking your legs) depends on your goal.  And make sure you never roll your joints or bones.  Runner’s World offers a great starter routine for those of you new to foam rolling.

When Should You Foam Roll?

Foam rolling
Source: Pixabay

You should foam roll every single day.  Aside from the stress your workout causes, everyday activities like extended periods of sitting and heavy lifting can cause tight, sore muscles.  A daily foam rolling session of just 10-15 minutes can help you prevent injuries, destress, and improve your flexibility.  What’s not to love?

It’s time to pick up foam rolling if you haven’t already.  It could be the key to a better workout and a better life.