Have you ever complained of sore muscles and someone advised you to get a foam roller? Maybe you?ve seen people at the gym rolling out their muscles and wondered if it works. Well, once you learn the benefits of using foam rollers and how to do it yourself, you?ll probably be itching to go out and get one.
A Foam What?
Foam rollers are a small cylindrical piece of firm foam. They?re available in several different materials, but the most common and usually least expensive type are very similar to pool noodles. While most of them feature a smooth surface, you may purchase foam rollers with bumps or other contours. Textured rollers are not for newbies as they may injure your muscles if you?re not used to them.
Foam rollers are generally about six inches in diameter with little variation. One exception to that are ?half rounds,? which is a roller with one flat side. Half rounds can be used when you have a concern about someone slipping, such as in physical therapy settings. Rollers come in lengths from 12 inches to three feet. The length you need will be determined by your goals for foam rolling.
What Does It Do?
Foam rollers can be used in workout routines, but they are primarily used for muscle recovery. In essence, foam rolling is like giving yourself a massage. You press your body weight onto the roller, rather than kneading your muscles using your hands. This helps loosen tightness in your muscles and improve circulation to them. Studies show that foam rolling after a workout reduces muscle soreness. It has also been shown to increase range of motion in joints.
Choose the Right Foam Roller
If you can, plan to shop for a foam roller in person. If you go to a large sporting goods store, they should let your try out your options so you can feel them for yourself. Beginners: choose a soft foam roller. The more dense the roller is, the harder the pressure against your muscles will be. Using a soft roller will cause you less discomfort than a firm one. While the softer rollers will break down more quickly, they are also less expensive than firmer rollers.
How to Start Foam Rolling
When you?re ready to start using your roller, choose which muscle groups you want to focus on. If you don?t have a trainer to show you how to use it, YouTube is a great tool to find instructional videos. Sarah Fit?s easy-to-follow foam roller tutorial is aimed at beginners. It?s great to have the videos on your smartphone or tablet nearby when you begin your workout, so you can follow along.
Some common foam rolling mistakes to avoid making include: going too fast, rolling the most painful spot, and rolling your lower back. Using a foam roller can be painful, especially when you first start out, so be sure you understand the proper way to do it before jumping in. If you don?t, you could wind up with an injury.
Be sure to clean your roller with soap and water to keep it free of bacteria. Also, remember to check with your doctor before beginning a rolling routine, especially if you have any chronic ailments.