If you love a massage, you’ll love (and hate) a foam roller. Foam rollers are used to ‘roll out’ various body parts and essentially massage them. While foam rolling has a number of benefits, it can really hurt. But, no pain, no gain, right? Here’s why you should be adding foam rolling to your fitness routine.
DOMS (delayed on-set muscle soreness)
Evidence suggests that foam rolling after your workout can reduce DOMS (1). The pain you get in your muscles after intense exercise is linked with the disruption muscle structure. By massaging your muscles, the muscle structure is activated and kicked into recovery. This means that DOMS hurts less and lasts for a shorter amount of time.
Joint ROM (range of movement)
Foam rolling appears to have effects on joint ROM (2). These effects have only been proven to be short term. This does mean, however, that foam rolling a the beginning of a workout could actually enhance your performance. If you’re able to move more effectively, you’ll perform better – especially if you play sports which require lots of movement.
The long term effects of foam rolling lie in your flexibility. One study revealed that by foam rolling for 4 weeks, your flexibility would increase – moreso than just standard stretching (3). It loosens up your muscles which means it’s really useful for exercise such as gymnastics which requires intense flexibility!
Even if you’re super flexible and have a great range of movement, you can still have knots in your muscles. Knots can make your muscles tighter and less effective while moving. Most of the time you don’t know you’ve got them until you have a dig around! Knots are most common in shoulders because people are hunched over their desks for most of the day. Although it’s pretty hard to foam roll your shoulders, by doing it to your back and arms (if you can bear it!), the muscles surrounding your shoulders will loosen up, as will the knots.