In the last few years, foam rolling has become one of the most popular of gym trends. You can’t walk into a gym without seeing at least a few people doing a foam rolling warm-up or cool down. But do you know what foam rolling is even all about? Do you have any idea why to try foam rolling? Here is everything you need to know about it…
What Does Foam Rolling Do?
According to science, a whole lot!
One study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, discovered that foam rolling before a workout can help to increase your range of motion. This means that you will have more flexibility while lifting, thereby reducing your risk of injury.
Another study, this one published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that foam rolling immediately following an intense training session helped to reduce muscle soreness for up to 48 hours following a workout. This reduces the inflammation in your muscle, which in turn speeds up repair and recovery.
Foam rolling is an activity designed to loosen up the muscles in preparation for or immediately after a workout. It helps to reduce the tightness that you feel when your muscles are cold, making it easier for you to get through the workout.
When your body senses that a certain position or movement could cause damage to your body, it tightens up the muscle fibers and connective tissues around the joint or muscle that could be injured. This makes you feel “tight”, and your range of motion feels limited. This is where foam rolling comes in handy. By rolling out the muscle, it helps to make the muscle feel looser and increases your range of motion. It essentially convinces your body that there is no risk of injury.
When you stretch after sitting down or working out, your muscles are all tight and stiff. If you were to work out with the tight and stiff muscles, the risk of injury would be much higher. This is why you take time to stretch the muscles that you are going to train before you actually start training. It helps to loosen the muscles, making it easier for them to elongate and contract when you work.
What foam rolling does is send a signal to your brain that everything is okay. It essentially stimulates your central nervous system, telling your brain that it can loosen up the tension in the muscles. It’s similar to the way you roll out dough–the more you roll, the looser it gets.
Interestingly enough, foam rolling does more than just loosens the muscles–it also helps to expand your range of motion. The foam rolling also works on the connective tissues, giving the joints a greater range of motion. This, in turn, extends the range of the exercise you are trying to do–allows you to drop deeper into a squat or bench press, for example. The deeper the range, the more overall strength you can develop.
Foam rolling is a good way to limber up and loosen tight muscles, and, as the studies mentioned above prove, it can help to reduce post-workout swelling. However, it’s not the only approach you should take to getting limber. You should make it a point to include both static and dynamic warm-ups in your routine, as that will help you to loosen up as effectively as possible. Foam rolling is just one of the methods in your arsenal, but it’s important to use them all!