If you haven’t hopped on a foam roller yet, it’s time to give it a go. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release or self-massage. Both athletes and non-athletes suffer from muscle tightness and imbalances. They also get “trigger points” that happen when the contracted muscle fails to release. These are adhesions or knots. They can reduce blood and nutrient flow to the muscle. This can cause pain or injury.

Pliable muscles are healthy muscles, so it’s important to take steps to loosen up those knots.

You might prefer a deep massage a couple of times a week. But, it’s simply not affordable for most people. Foam rolling opens up an avenue for serious muscle work. It does so without the cost of a personal masseuse.

Foam rollers are just as they sound. They are dense foam cylinders. You can lean on them and roll over to give yourself a massage. They were first used in therapy. But, they started appearing in fitness centers in the 2000s. They are now common equipment. They are used to massage, stretch, and even strengthen muscles.

Benefits of Foam Rolling

The benefits of foam rolling are many. Adhesions occur when muscle fibers “stick” to muscle fascia. Fascia is a sheath of connective tissue that surrounds the muscles. The sticking results in a knot of tissue. This knot limits the circulation of blood, nutrients, and waste elimination. It can lead to pain and injury. When you use a roller to roll along your muscle, you’re helping lengthen these “sticky points.” This lets your muscles return to their original length.

The overall result is:

  1. Improved circulation and delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and blood to the muscle. This helps your muscles function well. It helps them recover and clear waste.
  2. Decreased pain and soreness. Many muscle knots are painful! They’re either painful to the touch or painful when moving. This can cause altered motion.
  3. Decreased likelihood of injury. Painful knots can alter a range of motion. Persistent muscle contraction can shorten muscle fibers. These changes can cause imbalances and injury. Rolling out the knots keeps your muscles long and stretchy. This reduces the chance of injury.
  4. Increased range of motion. Using a foam roller often can even help you increase your range of motion. It does this by loosening tight areas and clearing scar tissue.
  5. Cost-effective therapy. You may not afford three massages a week. But, you can likely afford a foam roller. Even brand-name ones cost under $100. It’s a one-time purchase you can use over and over again.

Benefits of Taking a Foam Roller Class

I’m no stranger to foam rolling. I’ve owned and used a foam roller for years. Also, I attended a short training at Trigger Point Performance. I learned how to use a foam roller correctly. But when I had the opportunity to take a class on Foam Roller Fusion at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, I jumped at the chance. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t roll often enough.
  2. I don’t roll all my muscle groups.
  3. It’s really nice to have someone else take you through a program.

It’s that last reason that’s particularly important. As I get older and busier, I’m drawn more to classes. In them, I don’t have to think. I don’t have to make my own program or motivate myself. When someone else is leading, I just follow.

And I have to say, the class I took was phenomenal. The instructor is Dr. Katherine Coffee. She took us through a series of rolling exercises. Some I’d done before, and some were new to me. I especially liked the exercises.

They focused on opening the shoulders, chest, and arms. Most foam roller exercises focus on the lower body. The class lasted 50 minutes.

So, I had time to really work my muscles, find problem areas, and release the tightness that often causes pain.

I recommend a foam roller class to new foam rollers. It’s for those, like me, who skip rolling due to “lack of time.” A class will force you to make the time. You will learn new moves and prioritize muscle health beyond the weight room. If your local gym doesn’t offer a foam roller class, check out some of the free workouts available on Grokker.

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