What’s the deal with foam rollers?
You may have noticed foam rollers cropping up at the gym or fitness fans raving about them on Instagram. So what’s the deal with this piece of equipment? Well, when used in the right way, foam rollers can have enormous benefits for the body, helping to release tight muscles, improve range of motion and prevent injury.
Also known as “self-myofascial release”, foam rolling is a form of massage which you can do yourself. The practice is typically used in order to aid with flexibility as well as reducing the effect of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Pete Burke, Personal Trainer at Hall Training Systems, says that along with regular static stretching, there is evidence that foam rolling can keep muscles supple.
“There is evidence to show that foam rolling can help reduce fatigue and DOMS, especially in the quadriceps,” he told Cover Media. “Tests have shown post-exercise soreness to be reduced when foam rolling has taken place.”
Pete advises that when using a foam roller it is a good idea to focus on one specific muscle group at a time, such as the quadriceps or calves. He suggests rolling slowly along the muscle, no faster than about an inch per second.
“If you find a particularly sore spot, stop and pause on it for up to 30 seconds or until you feel the tightness release,” he explained.
When it comes to trying to loosen up common areas of tightness such as your outer thigh quadriceps or upper back, use the foam roller by positioning yourself on top of it, proceeding to use the weight of your body to slowly roll back and forth over it, as if you're using a rolling pin to roll out some dough.
"Try not to use your arms for support, but allow your bodyweight to relax as much as possible over the roll."
In all, Pete suggests that if you find your DOMS are affecting your subsequent workouts, then spend 10-20 minutes rolling at the end of each training session.
“But if you are really trying to work on flexibility, then add in foam rolling alongside your static stretches to see the best results,” he shared.