You might have heard all about, and maybe even already become a firm believer, in the benefits of those brightly coloured squishy cylinders. You might, however, have always looked at other people rolling around with their legs akimbo (and usually a slight grimace on their face) in the gym and thought, “that looks like something I’m going to avoid like 100 burpees.” For those of you in the latter camp, just remember, there’s plenty of reasons professional athletes, physiotherapists and your fellow gym-goers get down on the floor for regular foam-rolling…and that grimace is definitely a good thing.
- Foam-rolling has almost all of the benefits of a professional massage…but without the cost. Who doesn’t love getting a massage when they have tension in their upper back and shoulders after a particularly stressful week at work or whilst in the midst of post-training aches and pains? Well, foam-rolling, otherwise known as “self-myofascial massage” is essentially, a massage you perform on yourself. It helps to elongate and relieve tension in the connective tissues that encase your muscles – the fascia – in the same way a traditional massage does. This helps with improving circulation, relieving stress and ensuring your muscles are no longer tight and painful.
- Helping you to avoid injury. Regular foam-rolling helps your muscle fascia to become more and more limber over time. The hamstrings, for example, are notoriously tight on a lot of people. Doing exercises that are particularly strenuous on your calves (think deadlifts or good mornings) can be dangerous to do when muscles are tight and stiff. Tight muscles can lead to bad form and a lesser range of movement, which can lead to bad performance and therefore injury. Rolling also helps break up scar tissue, meaning that existing injuries can be healed even quicker with regular mobility sessions on affected areas.
- Rolling can even help you train harder and smarter. Regular foam-rolling after working out means that you immediately get help to rid your muscles of lactic acid. Less lactic acid means less of that dreaded pain in the days following a particularly intense session in the gym, and this means that you’re much more likely to get back in the gym quicker and consistently increase your overall fitness. Limber muscles also mean that you get a better range of movement when training at the gym and during movements in everyday life. This means deeper squats, longer lunges and generally better well-being.
Don’t forget though, it’s not just foam-rolling that can help you out with all of the above, either. Those colourful little spiky massage balls are also amazing tools for self-massage on particularly deep spots in your muscle tissue. They’re smaller and a lot more moveable than rollers, so they’re great for releasing stubborn trigger points before a workout. Try using these if you’re prone to injury in certain areas like shoulders, feet and glutes.
Join us for mobility classes in the gym. In this class, you’ll learn all about the correct ways to use foam-rollers, spiky balls and how doing so will help you get the most out of your workouts. More videos to see on youtube, facebook & instagram.