What is foam rolling and why should you do it every time you workout?
Since foam rolling has become really popular in most gyms recently, Im sure by now you've seen people laying on cylinder shape objects on the floor or floor mat making funny painful faces. You are probably wondering what the hell are they doing? I know for the longest time I did too. However now I know that those people are most likely foam rolling their muscles. So what is foam rolling?
The official term and or name for foam rolling is self-myofascial release. To make it more understandable and easier to explain to people I call it self massage. It is the best way to release built up and tight muscles. The major muscles you will want to foam roll are usually in your back, legs, and shoulders. Now I am not saying you can't or don't want to foam roll your arms as well because sometimes I actually like to do my triceps, however usually people stick to rolling the above mentioned muscle groups. There are two important things you will want to remember when you are foam rolling. First one is make sure you always go slow. You don't want to roll up and down the foam roller as fast as you can and then call it a day. That's not going to do anything for you. Instead when you start rolling, try to find a spot that is really tense and you will know because it will hurt like crazy. When you found that magic spot try to hold the pressure there and let the muscle slowly release. This is a painful experience but the more you do it the more comfortable it will become. The second thing to pay attention to is that if the pain is very sharp ease away from that area and try to roll a couple inches away from it. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself. I say this because sometimes people will ignore the pain and push through it thinking they are fixing the problem but in reality they are just making it worse.
Foam rolling definitely should fit into your workout schedule every time. If you are like me and as soon as you get to the gym all you want to do is lift weights and don't care about anything else in sight, then you may need to make a small adjustment. Even after reading and studying about self-myofascial release in my book when I got my NASM certification, I still was hesitant to actually get down to it at the gym. What helped me and changed my mind on the whole thing was something a good trainer friend of mine brought to my attention. All he told me was “when you foam roll, you spread out your muscle and you can exponentially grow the muscle and get bigger and stronger.” That's all it took for me. Of course I want to have bigger muscles. And now I foam roll all the time and I can do way more weight with way less pain than I used. Try it out.
If you think I missed to mention something or you have any questions or comments please let me know in the comment section below. I love to hear what other people's experiences are with foam rolling or what area on their body they like to foam roll the most and why. If you’ve never tried it and have more questions please feel free to ask away.