It would be great if we could all afford professional massages or a luxury massage chair multiple times a week. But the good news is foam rolling will make an excellent substitute.
For those not familiar, foam rolling is a form of “self-myofascial release.” Think of it like a massage that you perform on yourself using the foam roller as an assistive tool. The goal is to target the body’s fascia, or the connective tissue encasing our muscles.
When the fascia aren’t massaged, they can become tight and painful and inhibit mobility. In contrast, massaging the fascia with a foam roller helps to elongate and relieve tension in these fibers. Aside from feeling good and providing stress relief (just as with a professional massage), the act of foam rolling confers several other serious benefits. Here’s why you should incorporate foam rolling into your regular routine.
It increases circulation.
Circulation plays an important role in our overall health, because it’s the process by which oxygen is delivered throughout the body. Circulation becomes impaired when tight tissues limit blood flow; this can result in a range of health issues including decreased immunity, reduced cognitive abilities, and numbness in the limbs. Because foam rolling helps to break up tightness in the tissues, it helps ensure that blood is able to circulate properly throughout your entire body.
It improves mobility and flexibility.
By relieving tightness and tension in the body, foam rolling helps to improve flexibility and range of motion. This should make sense if you’ve ever developed a knot in your shoulder or neck—it can get pretty hard to move your arm or neck, right? But if you release those knots, you can move more easily again. And that’s exactly what foam rolling does: It helps to release knots and other areas of tension so your range of motion isn’t compromised. It can even improve your mobility by loosening and lengthening tissues that don’t normally receive this treatment.
It aids post-workout recovery.
Foam rolling helps your body bounce back faster from a workout by limiting tightness and lactic acid buildup in the muscles, both factors that have been linked to post-exercise soreness. The improved circulation resulting from foam rolling also plays a big role in helping your body feel better faster after even the toughest workout.
It helps prevent injury and facilitates recovery from injuries.
Many injuries (particularly those pertaining to athletic performance) are the result of tight tissues or the overuse of muscles without adequate recovery. This can lead to the body performing in a sub-optimal way, which then increases the risk of injury. Using a foam roller to decrease tightness and facilitate post-workout recovery is consistently linked to a reduced risk of injury. If you do happen to be injured, foam rolling can assist with recovering from said injury faster by breaking up scar tissue, reducing pain and soreness, and promoting blood flow to the injured area.
It boosts athletic and functional performance.
When you’re aware of the other foam rolling benefits on this list, it’s easy to understand how foam rolling could increase your body’s performance in both athletic pursuits and everyday life. When you’re injury-free and limber, your muscles enjoy an increased range of motion and contain more stored energy, which increases your body’s power potential. What’s more, reduced tightness helps ensure your body is working at its optimal capacity.
No matter whether you’re a hard-core athlete or an equally hard-core desk jockey, foam rolling promises a host of benefits that will make your body a healthier and more comfortable place to inhabit. Now all that’s left for you to do is go out and pick the right foam roller for you.