As you probably know, working out can be painful. Sure, it’s beneficial, but after a tough workout you certainly can feel the after-effects. Not only will you feel sore, you may also find that you’ve picked up a nagging injury that won’t go away. Most people either choose to work through the pain of an injury, or they’ll pop as many painkillers as is required to mask the pain and allow them to train without any discomfort. Neither of these options are particularly beneficial. One thing that is beneficial however, is a simple tube of foam known as a foam roller. But what is a foam roller, what are the benefits, and how is it used? Well, all of that will soon become clear, and plenty more beside, as we provide you with a detailed look at foam rolling.

First off, what is a foam roller?

Before we can start singing the praises of this amazing creation, we should probably talk to you about what a foam roller actually is. People often assume that foam rollers are incredibly advanced, sophisticated pieces of kit for working out. In truth, they’re decidedly primitive in design as they are literally just a long tube of solid foam. Just because they’re basic in design, this does not mean that they’re impractical, because they aren’t. For many athletes and gym-goers, foam rollers are considered to be a godsend. They’re hugely beneficial as they can assist with injury treatment and prevention, they can improve athletic performance, they can improve mobility, and plenty more. Basically, the idea is that you roll the roller over various parts of your anatomy to simulate the effects of a deep tissue massage. To get technical, it is a form of self-myofascial release, or SMR for short.

What are your fascia, and why is foam rolling so important?

So, we’ve looked at what is a foam roller, so now it’s time for us to take a look at why foam rolling is so important. To understand why, we need to look at fascia again. Fascia are basically large-sized sheets of connective tissue which are designed to connect muscle to your ligaments, bones, joints, and tendons. Overtime, fascia can become stuck to itself, or it can wrap around your muscles. This can affect your mobility, it can lead to pain and discomfort, and it can negatively impact the rate in which you are able to build muscle. These trigger points can become tender and inflamed. When you foam roll, you target these trigger points and carry out a series of exercises and movements which basically roll the foam tube up and down the affected the area. This motion simulates the effects of a deep tissue massage and basically breaks up the fascia and frees the muscles hidden underneath.

What are the benefits of foam rolling?

Now it’s time for us to look at some key benefits associated with foam rolling. These include, but are not limited to:

Improved mobility

One of the main reasons why people suffer with poor mobility and flexibility is because of a build-up of fascia. This is why huge bodybuilders often have the flexibility of a plank of wood. Sure, they can deadlifts or bench press the weight of two grown men, but ask them to ouch their toes and a lot of them struggle. This is because they’re carrying such large quantities of fascia on their frames. By taking the time to break this fascia down with a foam roller however, they can break down these “knots” of fascia and improve their flexibility and their mobility no end.

Improved athletic performance

Another great reason to take up foam rolling is because of the fact that doing so has been found to greatly improve athletic performance. With a foam roller, you can improve your flexibility and your range of motion, which in turn will enable your muscles to work better. Not only that, but it also helps to ease pain and discomfort, which is beneficial if you want to perform at your best. Finally, in terms of athletic performance, foam rolling has even been found to help improve circulation, which means more oxygen can be transported to the cells around your body.

Pain-relief

If you’re suffering with pain and inflammation, this could be caused by scar-tissue, or a build up of fascia. If this is indeed the case, a foam roller can help to break up this scar tissue and/or fascia, which in turn will provide instant relief from pain and discomfort. Not only that, but as foam rolling also helps to improve circulation, you’ll find that the more oxygen that is carried around your body, the greater the rates in which you recover.

Reduced risk of injury

When looking at what is a foam roller, you can’t overlook the fact that foam rollers work incredibly well when it comes to injury prevention. Foam rolling helps to stretch and lengthen your muscles, which helps improve their elasticity. If a muscle is more elasticated, you’ll find that it is far less susceptible to a rip or a tear. This means that you’ll be less likely to suffer an injury during physical exercise. Many athletes, bodybuilders, and sportspeople will set a few minutes aside before and after a training session to foam roll, which not only improves their performance, it also helps to prevent injury and assist with recovery.