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This Is How We Roll

Professional athletes know the benefit of regular sports massage for preventing injuries and improving range of motion. But there is another inexpensive and effective tool that can help you achieve your fitness goals—the foam roller.

What is a Foam Roller?
You may have seen these white, black, or blue foam “logs” in the gym. Like fitness balls and bands, the foam roller was originally part of the arsenal that physical therapists used in their rehabilitative work with patients—but this versatile tool has made its way into mainstream gyms and studios everywhere.

The firm cylinders are made of high-density foam and are typically 36 inches long and 6 inches in diameter, though they do come in a variety of sizes and densities.

Benefits of Foam Rollers
A foam roller is one of the most effective ways to break up and prevent the muscle knots that can occur from overuse, misaligned movement patterns, injuries, or inadequate stretching.

Just beneath the skin is a layer of soft connective tissue referred to as the superficial fascia. This fascia and our muscles comprise the myofascia system. Depending on our movement patterns, we can develop adhesions and knots in the myofascia system that can cause pain and restricted movement.

By using direct pressure to roll these areas on the foam roller, we can perform “myofascial release” to break up these knots and adhesions. If you want to improve your range of motion and work through the inevitable knots that build up after exercise, a foam roller might be just the tool you need.

How Are Foam Rollers Used?
Using a foam roller is as easy as placing your body weight on the roller to apply direct pressure and roll up and down the length of muscles.

When rolling out tight spots:

  • Roll back and forth over the affected area for about 1-2 minutes.
  • When you reach a “knot” (sometimes referred to as a “trigger point”) stay there until you feel a release.
  • After spending time on the knot, roll the entire surrounding area again.
  • After rolling, stretch the affected muscle.

Make Foam Rolling a Habit
Foam rolling is most beneficial when performed consistently. It is not only excellent for breaking up knots that have already occurred, but also preventing new knots from occurring in the future. To reap the most benefits:

  • Roll several times a day for acute knots and/or injuries.
  • Roll before and after exercise.
  • Stretch after rolling.
  • Stay on soft tissue. (Avoid bony areas and joints.)

Truth be told—foam rolling probably won’t feel great the first few times you do it. Some people joke that it “hurts so good.” However, if you stick with it, you’ll notice that it becomes more comfortable over time. Make it a habit—take a few minutes every day to roll—and you’ll notice huge results.

Need help with the foam roller? Join Yvette every Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. for Sport Stretch/Foam Roller class in the yoga studio. Your tight muscles will thank you!