Updated: Aug 28, 2019
What is Foam Rolling?
Foam rolling, also called myofascial release, is a physical activity that releases your fascia. But what is fascia? And why do you want to “release” it?
Fascia is the thin tissue that connects our muscles. In simple words, it helps muscle groups cooperate with each other. When it’s healthy, fascia is flexible and supple. But when it's *gummed up*, it can lead to a host of problems for your body.
A foam roller is a simple cylinder (usually made of flexible plastic or foam) which you can lay on in a variety of positions, allowing you to put pressure on affected muscle groups. Rolling over problem areas can help release that built-up tension in your fascia, and re-establish the performance of muscle tissue.
Watch this video for a basic how-to of Foam Rolling.
Benefits of Foam Rolling:
Corrects Muscle Imbalances
Because foam rolling can lengthen muscles, improve range of motion and relax tight muscles - it allows your body to perform better. It helps correct muscle imbalances by relaxing the tight muscles, and allowing for proper movement to strengthen the underactive muscles.
Improves Range of Motion & Performance
Exercise, injury, and lifestyle can cause your fascia to tighten and cause trigger points, or “knots”. These knots are what restrict both mobility and performance. Foam rolling can break up those knots and return muscles and soft tissue back to normal.
Lengthens Muscles & Prevents Injury
Just as it increases range of motion, foam rolling allows you to stretch your muscles more efficiently as well. It lengthens muscles and breaks down scar tissues that can prevent you from reaching your deepest stretc.
“Rolling” over your muscles and trigger points creates a similar effect that a massage therapist uses when kneading your muscles. This helps them relax and release tension.
Using a foam roller is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of practice and body contortion. You start by finding a relatively open area with some floor space. Position your body with the area you want to work on top of the foam roller. Your body weight creates the pressure that massages and releases tight spots in the fascia. It's helpful to try a variety of positions and decide what works best for you. Check out this handy guide of 12 different ways to use a foam roller.
People suffering from any of the following ailments may want to consult a doctor before trying foam rolling, as more factors are at play in these conditions:
- Varicose Veins
- Pressure Sensitivity
- Recent Injury Or Surgery
- Young Children
- Older Adults