The way it works is you use body weight to apply direct deep pressure on problematic muscle tissue virtually anywhere in the body (AKA myofascial rolling).
The most common problems are muscle knots (trigger points) seen in experienced runners and athletes and are caused by repetitive minor micro-tears. If left untreated, this of course causes pain and stiffness in the area. Common trouble spots include: the deep hip region, the shoulder girdles, and the outside of the thigh (known as the IT Band).
The foam roller actually breaks down the scar and soft tissue adhesions that cause the issue. Keep in mind this is not to replace an actual workout or yoga session – it should be used consistently to enhance your performance by preventing unnecessary pain and injury.
It’s a little painful at first if you’re not used to it, but over time it will start to feel really good, like a deep tissue massage. I ordered mine on amazon.com, but many websites/sports stores sell them.
Here are some of the key benefits of using a foam roller:
- Improves blood circulation in the skin, fascia, muscles, tendons, and ligaments (which means more efficient exchange of nutrients and waste particles at a cellular level).
- Stretches tight/short muscles resulting in greater range of motion
- Quickens recovery time post workout
- Reduces soreness & stiffness caused by intense workouts or past injuries by breaking down soft tissue adhesions and scar tissue.
- Great for maintaining proper posture
- Reduces risk of joint pain and physical imbalances by releasing tensions and trigger points.
- Rolling on these short muscles and ligaments improves their strength, length, and flexibility, which prevents injury.
- Helps you relax (like a massage, without the cost)
- Drains the lymphatic system
- Promotes optimal range of motion in the spine by slowly stretching its surrounding joints and tissues.
Just a few tips on how to use:
- Ideally, use all over the body and focus on areas that are especially tight, which tend to be in the underarm, hip/butt, and IT band areas.
- Take your time – go slow.
- Hold the pressure on the tight and tender spots for at least a few deep breaths (Ideally 30-60 seconds) and continue rolling.
- Avoid rolling over bony areas
- Always stretch the area after rolling on it
- Drink plenty of water after each session
- Consult your health care professional before using, especially if you have heart or circulatory concerns.