Benefits of Foam Rolling for Athletes and Non-Athletes
By Tracy Dye
Foam rollers have become a staple accessory for gym-goers, while also making their way into the world of yoga and pilates. Whether you are training for your sixth triathlon or consider yourself an exercise neophyte, foam rolling offers a wealth of benefits regardless of fitness level and experience.
Athletes and workout buffs know the ugh-worthy feeling of waking up with soreness after a tough exercise session. Comparably, non-athletes who spend their work days at a computer know how everyday tasks can turn into a literal pain in the neck.
Using a foam roller is a form of self-myofascial release therapy, which aids in relieving tension and pain in the muscles. In layman terms, self-myofascial release is basically a self-massage. Massage breaks up the adhesions in muscles through pressure and stretching.
Not only does this provide pain relief, but employing a foam roller after a long day can feel life your own personal pampering session.
Better range of motion
A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that using a foam roller greatly increased the knee joint range of motion (ROM) in 11 athletic men after exercise. ROM is the measurement of joint extension and flexion.
Having an optimal ROM is important both for athletic performance and day-to-day tasks, from playing with your children to lifting groceries. Keeping your ROM broad through stretching and self-myofascial release can also prevent injuries or alleviate issues that have come from muscle strain or soreness.
Faster recovery time
Those who participate in sports and train for events like marathons understand that tight, sore muscles can definitively quash motivation when it comes to performing the next day.
Because a foam roller offers a DIY deep tissue massage, it expedites muscle recovery. This helps the muscle return to its national elasticity, so you can get back to the gym, track, court or field.
Novices to exercise and athletics will also benefit by being able to build endurance faster by taking less days off from working out.
Is there a wrong way to use a foam roller?
Clearly foam rolling can provide numerous benefits, but — as with most anything — you still need to proceed with caution. Physiotherapist Dan O’Grady detailed the common missteps people encounter when using a foam roller in an article for Mind Body Green.
Although the pressure of foam rolling can be slightly uncomfortable on tense areas, it shouldn’t be agonizingly painful. Don’t look to surpass your threshold while using a foam roller, as this will do more harm than good. Also, remember to take it slow. Rolling over an area too quickly can cause pain and bruising. Take your time and review some standard foam roller exercises before stretching out.