Imagine a simple piece of equipment that can soothe your aching muscles. Foam rollers have become popular in recent years with adults seeking relief after working out or sitting in front of a computer from 9 to 5.
Most rollers look like bolster pillows that you position under your back or any target area. Then, you roll back and forth over the compressed foam. Keep in mind that it’s natural for your muscles to hurt a little, especially when you first start or use high density rollers.
There are different theories about how rollers work. Some experts say they loosen up the myofascial tissue that wraps around your muscles and other body parts. Others believe that they make positive changes in your central nervous system.
You can buy a roller for about $25 and use it anywhere. That’s handy now if you’ve cancelled your usual massage sessions to save money and deal with social distancing concerns.
See what a foam roller can do for you. Read this guide about the benefits of rollers and how to use them safely and effectively.
Benefits of Foam Rollers
Stiff muscles are the most common reason for using rollers, but they can do much more. Regular use may enhance your overall wellness and make your workouts more productive.
Consider these advantages of using foam rollers:
- Reduce discomfort. While more research is needed, several small studies have found that foam rollers reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Many physical therapists and fitness buffs report positive results.
- Increase flexibility. You can use rollers to extend your range of motion. Making them part of your warmup can help you stretch further.
- Build strength. They can also be used for strength training. Preliminary studies have found that muscles are able to exert more force for about 10 minutes after rolling.
- Deal with injuries. Are sore knees and heels interfering with your daily run? A little strategic massage may prevent injuries and help you recover faster.
- Sharpen your skills. Some athletes use foam rollers to boost their performance. Targeted exercises may increase your soccer or swimming skills.
Tips for Using Foam Rollers
Most healthy adults find it easy to use rollers safely. Still, you’re more likely to get your desired results if you understand your options and take a few simple precautions.
Keep these strategies in mind:
- Choose your style. Take your pick from many different sizes, textures, and levels of density. To make it easier, most manufacturers use color coding with lighter colors for softer rollers and darker callers for firmer models.
- Seek instruction. There are many videos and books to guide you through specific exercises and maintaining correct posture. You may also want to work with a trainer or physical therapist.
- Protect your bones. Remember that you’re rolling your muscles rather than bones or joints. Be careful around vulnerable areas like your lower back and knees.
- Slow down. Take your time and create a smooth rhythm. Pause for about 30 seconds to apply gentle pressure when you find a tight spot.
- Set a timer. Avoid overdoing it. If you’re a beginner, experiment with rolling for a few minutes and work your way up to a maximum of 20 minutes. Take a day or two off in between sessions to give your muscles time to recover.
- Breathe deeply. You can make even greater progress by combining breathing exercises with your rolling. Lengthen your exhalations to help your muscles relax.
- See your doctor. Talk with your doctor about your individual needs. You may need to modify or avoid foam rolling if you have certain conditions, such as osteoporosis or some forms of arthritis.
Roll your way to greater comfort, flexibility, and strength. Make foam rollers a regular part of your fitness and self-care routines.