You’ve probably seen people at your local gym rolling about on a cylinder looking shape pulling all sorts of weird facial expressions whilst they do it?
They’re likely using a foam roller!
Foam rolling can be a great thing to incorporate into your daily/weekly routine whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, runner, or are in pain i.e. you are suffering with tight muscles.
In this article I’m going to tell you Everything You Need To Know About Foam Rolling so that you have a clear understanding of the benefits and limitations.
I’ll also be showing you some exercises (video below), and telling you the best type of foam roller to buy, how long to do it for, and sharing lots of content which will help educate you further…
Let’s dive in…
What is a foam roller?
As I said in the into, a foam roller is a cylinder-shaped piece of foam that people roll on to alleviate tight muscles. It can be used before training, during training and post-training depending on the goal (I will explain more on this shortly).
There are different firmnesses of foam rollers, for example, some are soft and spongy and others are rock solid, like rolling on a block of cement! The firmer the foam roller the harder it is on the muscles, this can be a good thing if you can handle discomfort.
Most beginners would be better opting for a softer foam roller and then slowly moving towards a firmer one. Most commercial gyms either have soft ones or medium to hard ones, so you’re usually pretty safe using these types of foam rollers.
The Benefits Of Foam Rolling?
There are lots of benefits, for example…
Warming Up – using a foam roller can be a great way to iron out and loosen off any tight knots in the muscles before working out. For example, say you want to perform a bench press in your main workout but the front of your shoulders are tight, you could use a foam roller to loosen them off so that you are better able to pull your shoulders back and have a stronger bench press.
Mid Session – If you’re doing lots of reps in the gym and your muscles are starting to feel really tight and are cramping, then using a foam roller can be a great piece of kit to increase blood flow and remove lactic acid as well as freeing up the muscles for better movement.
Post Training – After a long run, or heavy weights workout your muscles are likely to be tight, tired and inflamed, again foam rolling straight after a workout can help prevent these issues from being prolonged. It can also help offset/reduce muscle soreness the next day.
How long should I foam roll for?
How long is a piece of string? There’s no set amount of time that you should do it for. For example some weeks you may need to spend 20 minutes each session because you are very tight, however other weeks you may only need to spend 5 minutes. It’s about listening to your body and using it when needed.
As a general rule of thumb, I find the following times useful…
- Warm-up – 5-10 mins
- Mid-session – not usually necessary – but if needed 1-5 mins
- Post-training – 5-10 mins
But like I said you may need more than this it depends on your situation.
What’s the best foam roller to buy?
I’ve used lots of different types of foam rollers over the last 5 or so years, some have been very effective, others have been total rubbish!
The two ones that I’d recommend are:
1) Trigger Point Foam Roller
2) Rumble Roller
Both of these are very good quality, they are firm, last years (I’ve had both for 5 years and they are still going strong!).
The rumble roller is the more intense of the two and the one I prefer the most, but the Trigger Point one is good also.
Foam Rolling Exercises…
There are literally hundreds of exercises that you can do on a foam roller, and you can target pretty much any muscle you like.
Below is a video with 5 exercises that you can do, these are great for beginners and provide a gateway into the foam rolling world.
If you’d like me to do another video on foam rolling with more exercises (let’s say another 20 exercises!) then please comment below or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do another video.
Limitations of foam rolling…
The analogy I use for foam rolling with my clients is…
“Foam rolling is like brushing your teeth twice per day, it’s a great way to look after yourself, but that said you still need to see a Dentist in Newmarket every 6 months!”
In other words, foam rolling is a great tool to use by yourself to maintain good health, warm up the body, and delay muscle soreness, but make sure that you also seek professional help to make sure that you are doing it correctly and that there are no serious underlying issues that need to be corrected.
Foam rolling isn’t a magical cure, although it can be a very effective one if used correctly. If you have an injury or underlying issue i.e. pulled muscle, poor posture or something along those lines then you must go to see a specialist, either a doctor, physio, chiropractor or somebody who is qualified to help.
If it’s a posture issue it may well be worth booking in to see a personal trainer – who can prescribe you with some exercises to improve overall posture.
Thanks so much for reading, if you liked this article please let me know, it would be great to hear from you!