Foam rolling isn’t a new concept. In fact, you’ve probably heard of it before. This method of massage, once used primarily by athletes, coaches, and physical therapists, is more widely available for everyday use by the average individual. Information, technology, and better manufacturing processes have made it easier to find a good foam roller that brings you the same benefits professionals have been seeing and feeling for years!
What is Foam Rolling
The typical uses for foam rolling aid in myofascial massage, which is the process of using massage to release muscle and fascial tension. You can also use foam rolling to relax trigger points. This is especially successful when you incorporate small squishy balls, Theracane, and even your own hands into your self-massage routine. Applying pressure to certain areas of your body aids in tissue recovery, which is helpful in preventing injuries and facilitating better recovery from injuries. For your muscles and fascial tissues to function well, they need to be elastic and healthy. We all know that training helps your muscles stay healthy during spontaneous movement, but foam rolling does, too. Ideally, healthy muscles are ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.
Muscle Trigger Points – Are They Tight?
Trigger points are actually knots that seem to form within your muscles, and they are usually easy to identify because they’re painful! “There are no actual knots involved, of course — it just feels like it.”
For instance, let’s say you’re foam rolling your quads, the muscles on the front of your thighs. You might feel a pain that shoots from your hip down through your leg. Chances are this pain is an indicator of a trigger point in your iliotibial band, a thick band of fascia that connects some muscles down the side of the thigh, a common place for knots. Yes you read that right, you might experience some pain while you foam roll, but there are ways to reduce this discomfort.
But it Hurts!
Since foam rolling is a form of deep tissue massage, understand that it may hurt; truthfully, not all health professionals believe that you need to apply a painful force for it to benefit. Dr. Stacy Barrows, Physical Therapist, states that our bodily tissues may respond better to non-painful approaches to self-massaging. All that aside, the great thing about foam rolling is it gives you control over your pain and your problem areas. When you find a sensitive area, there’s nothing wrong with starting off with a gentle massage by hand before moving on to deep-tissue methods.
Before you Start
Before you get started with foam rolling, it is very important that you speak with your primary health care provider to ensure that self-myofascial massage is for you. For the most part, practitioners encourage this practice, so don’t be afraid to ask! Massage can be very beneficial to support healing and get you back to your favorite activities in no time. If you’re struggling with muscle tightness, foam rolling might be the answer!
If you are an active or inactive individual, there is a good chance you’ve developed some tissue imbalances. The good news is, once you learn the best ways to foam roll, you won’t need to call on a professional to get you back to your usual, healthy self. Start rolling and start living!
A Smarter Foam Roller
I’ve used a lot of foam rollers in my life, and they all tend to have a few things in common. First of all, after repeated use, they start to sag, especially if they are low quality. And second, I’ve fallen off a few times, more than I care to admit.
After trying several substandard products, I finally found the Smartroller®. I was a little disappointed with the name; unlike most ‘smart’ products on the market, this one isn’t something that can connect to your smartphone. But hey, you can’t have everything, right?
The Smartroller isn’t just your typical foam roller; it actually features two sides with different curve angles to help tune up your body. The two sides offer multiple ways to explore more dynamic movements to reduce deep body tension, like rocking gently while lying on your back. The side you choose is going to depend on your intended use, your comfort level, and what strategies you want to stimulate balance when it comes to exercise. Some people like it casual, and others like to take it to extremes.
Rolling the Smart Way
There are hundreds of foam rollers out there, and the Smartroller is just one example. This type of foam roller is most often used for physical therapy, but it’s also fantastic for using at home. Personally, I like to use mine before I play a few rounds of tennis, before I take a run around the track, or even lie on it just before bed. It’s a great way to get rid of body tension that comes from sitting with poor static posture when I am at my laptop. Because I work at home, I’m able to use it after long periods of sitting at the computer. Honestly, I’ve gotten so attached to it, I don’t know how I’d live without the thing.
If you’ve already used a foam roller, or if you’re already familiar with what they are, then it stands to reason you’d want to know what makes this one so special and why it is worth investing in. One thing I want to say right off the bat is that I’ve ordered more than a few foam rollers off of Amazon only to find that many of them are literally just hyped-up pieces of Styrofoam which can collapse over time, doing little to aid in enhanced mobility and muscle recovery. The Smartroller, however, exceeded my expectations and even after regular use for over 6 years, it is still in excellent condition.
As a sufferer of chronic pain myself, I am so grateful for something like the Smartroller, which is more than adept at addressing conditions like arthritis and other chronic pain issues. There is some serious value in pain-free living, and that alone is worth its weight in gold!
All in all, rollers are a great way for you to shake up your stretching and recovery a little. Maybe you’ve been sitting down way too long at work, or maybe you need to stretch before or after a run. Whatever the case may be, you’re going to find that you absolutely cannot live without a roller.