What is a Foam Roller?
What is a Foam Roller and what do I do with it?
I have been telling a lot of people recently about how foam rolling keeps me on my feet. It is a relatively new idea and I think word of mouth is going to be the best way to educate people on its many benefits. So, read on in order to learn what it can do for you to help keep your body at its peak physical condition and keep pain away.
A foam roller is just that--foam that rolls. The actual benefits come not from rolling, however. The real benefits come from laying a part of your body (usually the outer thigh, as that is one of the most difficult areas to stretch) across the top of the foam roller and allowing your body weight to gently add pressure. This self-myofascial release, a sort of self-massage, can help your muscles to be more pliable, and can provide a kind of stretch that not even massage can provide. You only need a few minutes a day in order to maintain the benefits. It may be slightly uncomfortable at first, but once your tension has released, it is much easier to maintain by giving tight spots a minute or two of attention each day. Eliminating tension reduces the scar tissue that builds up over time and will provide you with numerous benefits as long as you stick with it.
You can also use foam rollers for balance training. They are available cut in half so that it is easier to balance, or as a full cylinder for more challenging balance exercises. This will help athletes and exercisers of all sorts with balance in their sport or just in every day life. Simply standing on the foam roller may provide enough challenge, or you can add single-leg squats with resistance in order to find enough challenge.
They can be found for your use at some gyms and most physical therapists offices, or you can buy them at optp.com, power-systems.com, or at many other sites for about $8-$15. The shorter rollers are good for keeping at your office or for traveling, whereas the longer ones (about 3 feet in length) are best for keeping in your workout space or simply to have the most options in using your foam roller. With the long foam roller, you can roll your back as well as lay down on it to stretch your chest and even do a chest press exercise with dumbbells.