Updated: Jan 9, 2021
I've compiled a list of awesome benefits for your entire body system that come from Foam Rolling, or Self Myofascial Release (SMR). If you don't already incorporate this into your workout routine, I hope that after reading this you'll give it a shot! It really does have amazing health benefits!
Before we jump right into the juicy part, I want to chat about what the heck a foam roller even is, and the different types of them. There is a whole world of SMR products, so I don't want to get carried away into balls, massage sticks, massage canes, scraping therapy tools...etc...that would make this post entirely too long! Although I really love all of those things and use many of them, I just want to hone in on Foam Rolling because it is a tool that many people already have in their homes!
So, let us breakdown a couple of different styles of foam rollers and then we can talk about how great rolling is for you! Daily News has a great list of the top 5 foam rollers for 2021 and you can find their updated list here, it is great for deciding which roller is best suited for your needs.
For general rolling, I find that a High Density Foam Roller is great because it isn't too dense, is inexpensive and you can find them in different lengths from 12"-36". This is a great option for beginners!! This is the one that I use, it costs about $25.
For more of a higher intensity, deep tissue massage, a Grid Foam Roller or Deep Tissue Foam Roller is what you're going to reach for. These are the rollers that have a higher density material and have ridges or higher bumps sticking up on them, often in a grid-like pattern. They are great for really getting deep into those tight areas and pushing into the muscle to give that "deep tissue massage" feeling. It also can feel quite INTENSE...spoiler alert. Haha. Here is the one that is on my list of equipment to get!
Now...on to what you came here for!! Are you ready to have your mind blown with some #facts about SMR?! Brace yourself...haha...I know there is AT LEAST one that you didn't know...
Below I've got 5 Benefits of Foam Rolling for you. But please don't think this is all you get from Foam Rolling...there are SOOO many more benefits. But these are my top 5!
#1: Foam Rolling helps you recovery more quickly from your workouts!
For people that are exercising on a daily basis, the struggle doesn't come with getting the workout in - it comes with getting the proper recovery to even be able to keep trucking with the exercise schedule! In a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training that was done on "Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures" found that muscle soreness was reduced, AND it improved dynamic performance measures. So not only are you reducing soreness but you're INCREASING your performance! Now this leads me to #2...
#2. You will be LESS SORE!
Unchecked muscle soreness can wreck havoc into your workout routine. Often times soreness is coupled with tight muscles - and trying to continue on without relieving these discomforts can lead to compromised muscle function...and INJURY. The same study that I mentioned in #1, found that rolling substantially improved muscle tenderness by a moderate to large amount in the days after initial fatigue. Which is huge for people that deal with large amounts of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) - or that soreness and tightness feeling you get within the day or two after you do exercise. This increase rate of recovery means that you are feeling more energized and ready to put out the full effort in your upcoming workout.
#3. Reduced arterial stiffness...
Know what this is?? It is how flexible the arteries in your heart are! Reduced flexibility and increased stiffening in the arteries of your heart contribute to increased chance of heart diseases, like Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), increased risk of heart attack, and is an indicator of mortality for both men and women. (If you didn't already know...I love all things cardiac!) This study "Acute effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on arterial function" found that using SMR using a foam roller on the following areas: adductors, hamstrings, quadriceps, IT bands and traps found it reduces arterial stiffness and improves vascular endothelial function! Vascular endothelial function is the process that brings fresh oxygenated blood and nutrient rich blood flow to the specified area. This function plays a CRUCIAL role in rebuilding muscle tissues and in the pathophysiology of several cardiovascular disorders. In less words, it brings fresh, healing blood to your sore recovering muscles and is amazing for your cardiac health!
#4. Improved Range of Motion (ROM) and Flexibility...
It's great to pair foam rolling with static stretching - together they foam a great relationship with improving flexibility in target areas and maintaining range of motion. Which is exactly what this study, "Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion" found! After just 6 sessions of performing foam rolling prior to static stretching in the hamstrings, there was a significant change in passive range of motion of the hip flexors! This is great for day to day living because it keeps your joints moving in the full range that they are intended to move in! And ESPECIALLY important for people that are sitting in a chair every day for extended periods of time for work...which is quite a large portion of the population. Not to mention that having tight hip flexors is a huge contributor to low back pain.
#5: Less Injuries
Using foam rolling consistently provides this opportunity for improved overall physical performance. And what does that mean? It means you're recovering more quickly and your body is able to efficiently rebuild and repair muscle, increasing ATP production more efficiently during exercise, and fostering an environment for you to continue training at higher levels day in and day out...because of less injuries caused from having muscle tightness or overuse. And what does that equate to? More frequent exercise GAINS and you reaching YOUR GOALS....a.k.a. PROGRESS & SUCCESS! Whoop Whoop!! Can't turn that down, can ya!?
So...after all this...is foam rolling something you already do? And if so, did you already know all of these benefits!? OR! is this something that you are feeling compelled to get into now? If you are interested in seeing some basic foam rolling movements, follow this link to my YouTube Channel and check it out! It's 10 minutes long and will give you a great base to start your SMR journey - beginners are more than welcomed!
Any questions or input...drop them in the comments, I'm happy to chat about it!!
All the Mom Love,