Does foam rolling work?
By this time, we all heard about different benefits foam rolling provides, like increasing range of motion in a joint, reducing soreness, eliminating aches and pains, and loosening tight muscles but still the question arises, does foam rolling work?
In this blog we will dig deeper into the pros and cons of foam rolling, and as a bonus I will be explaining different ways you could use a foam roller in order to get the best results out of it.
What does foam rolling really do?
In simple words foam rolling is like giving yourself a soft tissue massage with the purpose of restoring normal joint function.
If you ever did go to a therapist, then foam rolling does quietly the same by applying external force to your tissue to influence change. Of course, it will never do what a therapist with years of experience is doing, but it’s a great tool to use if done correctly to reduce tightness in the muscles and reducing pain and aches in the body.
3 Keys to improve your foam rolling session
The first factor I always suggest everybody starts with is breath control. Make sure to take deep breaths through the nose to relax your body and mind with 4 second inhales followed by 6 second exhales. This will make sure your body relaxes which takes us to the second factor.
After you got comfortable with your breath it’s time to relax the targeted muscles, as the foam roller will not sink deeply into the tissues if your muscles are tensed.
Let me also mention that when performing a deep tissue massage with the foam roller it’s very important to keep your pain tolerance at a 6/10 with 1 being comfortable and 10 being painful.
If you feel too much pain while rolling, then it’s best to get assistance from other muscles and put less pressure in the targeted area in order to not get the contrary effect leading to more tightness in your muscles.
After relaxing I like to close my eyes and really try to connect with my own body, one mistake I always see is people moving back and forth on the foam roller too fast which will make the session ineffective. Slowing down will help you find the right spot and get the best results.
Now, that you have a general idea about foam rolling let’s see two different methods you could apply to get the best results keeping in mind the 3 keys mentioned above.
2 foam rolling methods to get the best results:
- One method I really like is to place the foam roller on the spot you are considering to work on and get assistance from your body to move over the roller 1-2 cm back and forth in the same direction of your muscle fibers, after 2-4 minutes change direction and move in the opposite direction of your muscle fibers.
- In the second method, it’s best to use a trigger ball or tennis ball to get the best results where you scan an area until you find a tender spot. Make sure to keep your pain not too high as mentioned while pressing your body towards the ball.
I usually like to put pressure for 3 seconds and release with the exact time for 3 seconds. Repeat this for a 1 minute then change the ball position to another area.
When to foam roll:
This depends on you, usually I suggest having a 15 – 20 minute foam roll session after a long day to relax your body, when you feel tightness in a muscle, as a post workout to cooldown your body of course not forgetting to do your mobility work, and when you want to increase the range of motion of a certain joint.
Foam rolling is a great tool if you wish to increase your joints range of motion, or decrease muscle tightness and pain but it’s not a magic tool. At the end of the day movement is key to a healthy body, focus on SMART training including different movement patterns to keep healthy joints and increasing your range of motion.