Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial therapy that provides many benefits for your body. In more common terms, it’s similar to giving yourself a sports massage. Not only does foam rolling help to break down scar tissue, but it can also help to stretch muscles and improve flexibility. Foam rollers are typically made out of hard foam material and are cylindrical in shape. They come in different sizes and vary in thickness.
How does it work?
Superficial fascia is a connective tissue located just beneath the skin. It provides support for many structures within the body including blood vessels and muscles. The term myofascial can be defined as the union of fascia and muscle. Through various causes, like injury or lack of stretching, this myofascial system can become impaired, causing scar tissue, trigger points and adhesions.
By using your bodyweight to roll over a foam roller, you can soften and lengthen the fascia which will aid in breaking down the scar tissue and adhesions.
Benefits of Foam Rolling
Perhaps, the most obvious benefit of foam rolling, is that it saves you time and money. Purchasing a foam roller costs a fraction of what a sports massage session would cost. Foam rolling is extremely convenient as you can participate in a foam rolling session at the gym or in the comfort of your own home. In addition to cost and convenience, foam rolling also has the following benefits:
- Stress Relief: stress can cause tension throughout the body. This tension can form “knots” and cause a great deal of discomfort. A foam rolling session will help to work out those “knots” and help you to relax.
- Injury Prevention: foam rolling helps to prevent injuries by increasing blood flow and circulation. This increased blood flow will help the muscles become more receptive to a strenuous workout.
- Muscle Recovery: foam rolling after you workout can help to reduce the lactic acid that builds up during your workout session by breaking down the lactic acid build up and improving the blood flow within your muscles.
- Improves Flexibility: foam rolling helps to lengthen the fascia and increases blood flow to your muscles and connective tissue. This allows your body to be more susceptible to Additionally, it prevents and restrictions caused by tightness or adhesions.
- Shin Splints: foam rolling has also become a reliable choice for treating shin splints. It helps to reduce pain and stretch out the tissue that’s inflamed due to this type of injury.
- IT Band Syndrome: foam rolling can help treat common athletic injuries like IT band syndrome. The IT band is a thick, fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee. This band can become inflamed due to overuse. Using a foam roller can help to stretch the band, release the tissue and alleviate the pain.
- Piriformis Syndrome: foam rolling can also help treat piriformis syndrome, a condition where the piriformis muscle in the buttocks region sustains an injury or spasms. Additionally, this small muscle can also irritate the sciatic nerve causing numbness or pain down the back of the leg. A foam roller can help to alleviate the pain, improve circulation and increase flexibility in the glute, hip and thigh regions that are impaired by this condition.
Before trying out foam rolling on yourself, ask your doctor to make sure a myofascial release is safe for you. Additionally, make sure you seek the guidance of a skilled fitness professional so they may teach you how to properly use a foam roller.