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The Many Benefits of Foam Rolling

by Faith Judson

 

Foam rolling may be a newer concept, but it should be something that is here to stay. Many people have seen a foam roller or have at least heard of one before, but do not understand its purpose or benefits. It may seem like just a piece of foam, but for those that understand what it is and what it does know that it is much more.

Most people love a good massage. They know it feels great, but there is more going on. Soft tissue mobilization, a more technical term for what a massage is, creates a chemical response in the muscle tissue. It changes the quality of the muscle fibers, leading to improved treatment and injury prevention. The problem is that regular massages take a lot of time and money.

The foam roller is the solution for people who need soft tissue work, but do not have ability to get frequent massages. It provides a way for people to perform self-massage by using body weight on the roller and rolling out the muscles. Foam rolling can be performed as a warm up before activity, which will increase blood flow and body temperature.  It can also be done post-workout, which serves as a cool down and a way to flush lactic acid out of the muscles.

Using a foam roller has many other benefits in addition to improving the quality of the muscles. Foam rolling can improve flexibility. It loosens up “knots” in the muscles which creates tissue length, allowing people to stretch better. Not only will it loosen up existing knots, but it can also prevent knots from forming. Foam rolling can also improve circulation. Releasing tight points in the muscle’s fascia (called “Myofascial release”) can allow better blood flow through areas that were restricted, improving overall circulation. Foam rolling contributes to reduced stress as well. Myofascial release lowers cortisol levels which are directly related to stress. Lowering cortisol levels will mean lowering stress levels.

A foam roller is a powerful tool for such a small piece of equipment. Its ability to help the body prevent injuries is well worth taking the time to foam roll, not to mention the additional benefits of improved muscle quality and flexibility, as well as improving the body’s circulation and stress levels. It is a great way to start and/or end workouts, but can really be used at any time because of its wide range of benefits. It is important that it is done on a regular basis so that injuries can best be prevented. Taking the time to take care of the body in the “small” ways will help the body when it comes time for it to perform, whether that is through daily activities or exercise.




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