Foam rolling is growing in popularity as people look for ways to exercise at home instead of the gym. Foam rollers are often used following an injury, but they can do so much more than ease the pain of an injured muscle or a strained back. Foam rolling gets your circulation moving and keeps muscles loose and limber, making it ideal for either a pre-workout warm-up or a cool-down routine. Want to get started foam rolling and don’t know where to begin? Here are some tips and tricks that’ll help you choose when and how to add foam rolling to your workout.
Before you begin foam rolling, you need a quality foam roller like one of these. Choose a foam roller that is firm enough to apply pressure to the muscles but not so dense that it hurts. Foam rolling also requires you to listen to your body. It would be best if you went slowly and deliberately as you release tension from your muscles.
- Center your muscle over the foam roller and lower yourself slowly onto the roller until you feel the pressure. It should not be painful.
- Position yourself firmly on the roller and hold that position for about 10-20 seconds to allow the pressure to begin to work on the muscle.
- Slowly roll along with the muscle with the foam roller, slowing down on those areas that feel tight or sore.
- Breathe normally and try to relax as the roller does its work.
- Roll each muscle for 20 to 30 seconds.
Some people prefer to foam roll each muscle in sections. This method works particularly well for larger muscles like those in the legs. Start by rolling the bottom of the muscle, then move to the middle, and lastly, the top. Give the full muscle a few rolls before you move onto another muscle group.
Foam rolling is most often used after exercising or on a day off as a recovery exercise. Research shows that foam rolling can help with recovery by reducing muscle fatigue and soreness. Foam roll as part of your cool-down routine, targeting those muscle groups that bore the brunt of your workout. The key to this post-recovery rolling is to pinpoint the sore or tight areas of your muscle and roll over them slowly. Roll the entire muscle and focus on the tight spots for maximum relief.
Foam rolling does more than ease sore muscles after a workout. You will also recover faster, allowing you to schedule more frequent hard workouts. The harder you work out, the quicker you can reach your exercise goal. As with any training plan, you should listen to your body and not train to the point of injury. Foam rilling helps, but you still need to take rest days and cross-train.
Though foam rolling is often done after exercising, you can benefit from foam rolling before a hard workout. Foam rolling stimulates blood flow in the muscles and helps increase muscle flexibility before you start exercising. Ideally, you should target the muscles you will be using that day in your workout, but some people prefer to hit all the major muscle groups as part of a longer warm-up. After foam rolling, you not only will feel great going into your workout, but research shows that people feel less fatigued during a workout when they used foam rolling during their warm-up routine.
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