You’ve probably seen people rolling about on a foam roller in your gym?
What on earth are these funny lucking cylinder shape objects that people roll on, and what are the benefits of foam rolling?
Well, I can guarantee that…
After reading this article you’re going to be an expert on foam rolling. I’m going to cover everything you need to know.
What Is A Foam Roller And What Does A Foam Roller Do For Your Body?
In short, a foam roller is a cylinder shape made of foam. Foam rollers come in different shapes and sizes. There are long ones and small ones (ideal for travel and placing in your gym bag).
Long Foam Roller
Small Foam Roller
There are smooth foam rollers, and there are ones with bumps on them (if you want a more intense experience). Bumpy rollers (like the one above) are more effective at ironing out tight muscle knots.
10 Benefits Of Foam Rolling
Why should you do foam rolling?
There are lots of reasons here are 10 benefits of foam rolling:
#1 Reduces Muscle Soreness
When you workout your muscles breakdown. Whether you’re doing cardio such as running, cycling, or swimming, or whether you’re doing resistance training…
Your muscles fatigue and end up being sore.
Soreness isn’t a bad sign. It simply means that you’ve been training hard and have successfully pushed your body. That said, the sooner you can recover from your workout, the better.
Foam rolling will help reduce muscle soreness. To prevent muscle soreness, I recommend doing at least 5 minutes before working out and 5 minutes straight after your workout.
#2 Saves You Money
If you workout more than four times per at some point, you’re going to get fatigued and burn out. You’ll likely need to take a week or two off every 8-12 weeks and pay for sports massage sessions to repair the damage created by training.
A sports massage in the UK costs anywhere between £30-£80 and can be expensive. Even just one massage a month could see you spend between £360-£960 per year.
If you foam roll regularly (four times per week), then you won’t need to see your massage therapists anywhere near as much. For example, I only see a massage therapist 4x per year (every three months). It cost me £50 per session, so in monetary terms, foam rolling saves me £400 a year on sports massages.
#3 Reduces Cellulite
Does cellulite haunt you? Do you hate looking at it in the mirror? Maybe you avoid looking altogether and cover-up?
Don’t worry. You’re not alone…
Cellulite is something that creates suffering for thousands of women all over the world. What’s more, is that many women believe there’s not much they can do.
The good news…
It’s not true. Foam rolling will help to mobilize stubborn fat cells when combined with a calorie deficit and weight training regime. I’ve coached women who’ve significantly reduced their cellulite by doing the following type of regiment:
Cellulite Eliminating Workout Program:
a) 5 minutes of foam rolling before working out (mobilizing the glutes, hamstrings, and areas where there’s cellulite)
b) 8-12 sets of resistance training exercises (typically squats, deadlifts, and compound lifts). The rep range per exercise will vary between 8-12 reps per set.
c) HIIT cardio – 5 minutes of intense cardio at the end of each workout.
The above routine is performed 4x per week. The other days (3 days) focus on low-intensity steady-state cardio such as walking.
I will then combine the workout routine above with a keto diet – I would recommend checking out the 28 Day Keto Challenge ebook, which I offer. In four weeks, you’ll lose lots of weight, drop a jean size (or two) look better, and feel more comfortable in your skin.
#4 Helps Your Body To Relax
Do you get stressed out during the week? Maybe you come home from work, and your neck and shoulders are tense from being sat down at a desk all day?
One of the best ways to relax in the evening (NO… not a glass of wine!) is to foam roll in front of the TV. Put on your favourite Netflix show and spend 10 minutes rolling out all of those areas that feel tense.
You’ll soon relax and unwind. If you combine this with having a warm relaxing bath, you’ll sleep like a baby and be raring to go the next day.
#5 Improve Posture
Do you suffer from rounded shoulders and poor posture?
If so, foam rolling is an effective way to loosen off tight muscles that cause bad posture.
When clients initially come to see me, they are often rounded in the shoulders because they have tight chest and shoulder muscles…
One of the strategies I use to correct this is to roll out tight muscle groups with a foam roller. I combine foam rolling with specific exercises to strengthen the weak muscles at the back of the body.
If you combine foam rolling with posture correcting exercises in 8-12 weeks, you’ll notice a vast improvement.
#6 Reduces Lower Back Pain
One of the most common things I see with my clients, especially those who sit at desks all day (80% of my clients) is that they suffer from lower back pain.
One of the best ways to reduce lower back pain is to foam roll over the tight upper and lower back. If you combine foam rolling with glute and hamstring strengthening exercises, lower back pain will often disappear in less than four weeks.
If you see someone in the gym using a foam roller, they usually know what they’re doing. You don’t see many beginners at the gym doing foam rolling, do you?
If you want to boost your street cred and stand out in the gym, using a foam roller will make you feel a part of the gym tribe.
#8 Removes Lactic Acid
Lactic acid builds up during intense exercise. For example, have you ever done a HIIT session… to find your legs cramping?
It’s horrible, not only are you limping around like John Wayne, but the cramping makes you pull funny faces and makes you want to pass out.
One way to avoid lactic acid or remove it is to foam roll both pre and post-training. For example, if you know you’re going to do a HIIT session on the bike, make sure to roll out your thighs for 3-5 minutes before your session, and then for 5 minutes after your workout – this will significantly reduce the lactic acid in your muscles.
#9 Increases Muscle Pumps
If you’re a guy (or women) who wants to increase your muscle pumps when working out, then I’d recommend foam rolling both pre and post-training.
To increase your muscle pump, you need to iron out any knots you have in your muscles. Foam rolling out tight muscles will enable more blood to travel into the working muscle tissue, leading to a more intense/insane muscle pump.
#10 Greater Mobility
If you’re tight and have poor flexibility i.e., you struggle to touch your toes, you’ll want to include foam rolling into your weekly routine.
Make sure to roll out tight areas such as the hamstrings, glutes, thighs, and shoulders. If you do foam rolling for 5 minutes per day, you’ll notice a considerable difference after a couple of weeks.
Is Foam Rolling Safe?
Yes, it’s pretty safe. Just make sure to start slow and build up your confidence.
I’d recommend practicing at home first. You don’t want to be that person in the gym who flings of the foam roller and creates a loud bang (causing everyone in the gym to turnaround and stare at you!).
Foam rolling can be uncomfortable, especially to begin with, but you’ll get used to it, and the benefits are worth the short term pain.
WARNING: If you are in a lot of pain and it hurts (not in a good way), then stop immediately. You may not be ready for foam rolling and would likely benefit from a gentler sports massage before trying foam rolling again.
How To Use A Foam Roller…
In short, you pick an area of your body that feels tight or sore and then gently massage over that area. You’ll see what I mean in the video coming up shortly…
Foam rolling is pretty straight forward. You’ll pick it up quickly, and there’s not much skill involved. I bet that you’ll master the foam roller after just 2-4 sessions.
If in doubt, hire a personal trainer to show you how to use a foam roller. You could also ask a sports massage therapist.
What’s The Best Foam Roller To Buy?
If you’re a beginner, I recommend buying a long and soft foam roller like this one…
If you’re more experienced or want more of an intense foam roller, then the best (and without question) is the rumble roller…
Do you travel away with work or want a foam roller that fits neatly into your gym bag? I’d recommend a small foam roller like this one…
Where Most People Go Wrong With Foam Rolling?
Going too fast – just because it says foam ‘roller’ doesn’t mean you have to roll around on the floor like some breakdancer in a warehouse rave…
Instead, go slow. Also, in many cases, you don’t have to roll, you can simply apply pressure to the tight muscle and relax on that one spot for 1-2 minutes.
Rolling over joints and tendons – you can foam roll muscles but avoid joints and tendons. The muscles you can roll out are: upper, lower back, chest, front shoulders, rear shoulders, glutes, hamstrings, thighs, and calves. AVOID rolling over the abs, knees, elbows, etc.
What Are The Best Foam Rolling Exercises?
There are well over a hundred different foam rolling exercises to choose from but here are eight of my favourites:
8 foam roller exercises
Thanks for reading,
Nick Screeton – Founder of LEP Fitness