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Foam rollers are cylinders of foam that resemble noodles used in pools for flotation. Foam rollers come in different densities, widths, and lengths. While smaller foam rollers can be helpful when rolling a leg at a time they are best suited to areas of the neck and smaller muscles. It is sometimes necessary to buy different sizes to treat different parts of your body. If you are wondering “how do foam rollers work?” and whether they are right for you, here is a brief explanation of how they work.
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How A Foam Rollers Works On Muscles
Inside the muscle tissue are neural receptors of different types. The responsibility of the muscle spindle is to monitor the length of the muscle fiber and the rate at which the length changes. Once the fiber reaches its threshold it triggers the myotatic reflex, which shortens the muscle fiber to prevent damage. The Golgi tendon organ, which is another neural receptor is responsible for monitoring muscle tension and rate of change of tension. Once it reaches the tension threshold, it causes relaxation of the muscle.
When you use a foam roller to target a kin or trigger point in the muscle, the muscle tension on the trigger point increases. The increase inhibits the muscle spindle activity and allows the muscle to relax, stretch out, and eventually realign. Foam rollers are used for obtaining health benefits like Myofascial release and are also great tools to treat back pain. If you have ever leaned your back onto a hard tennis ball against the wall to find relief, a foam roller does a similar job. But has extra massaging features and greater coverage. You will often see people using a foam roller after a gym workout and while practicing Yoga.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Foam Roller?
- It is a great alternative to deep tissue massage
- It improves the quality of movement and allows blood to flow easier
- It reduces the tone of tight overactive muscles
- It improves mobility and range of motion
- Can assist in undoing knots and pinched nerves in certain areas of the body
See How Foam Rolling Is Beneficial To Your Body
This short video is incredible for explaining exactly how foam rollers work, how to use them and the three different techniques you can do.
When Should You Foam Roll?
Ideally, you should use a foam roller both prior to and after your training sessions. You should use a foam roller as part of your warm-up before any stretching movements.
It helps get the blood flowing in areas that are not receiving as much blood flow and reduces muscle tension. At the end of your workout session foam rolling helps in flushing out blood that has pooled up in the working muscles and helps allow oxygen and fresh nutrients to enter and start the process of healing.
Using a foam roller will have a great impact on your training sessions. It will help you get into the state your body needs to be to move as efficiently as possible and apply the most power.
How Should You Use a Foam Roller?
Ensure that you are properly positioned to avoid straining or injuring the target area. You should have your shoulder positioned directly underneath your shoulder and not too far away from it.
When using a foam roller on your back it’s important to use the best foam rollers designed for back use. Using the incorrect roller and incorrect methods can actually cause more issues then resolving them. Especially when it comes to working on your lower back. Pay particular attention to this area as it doesn’t have the support of the rib cage like the mid and upper back does.
How Long Should You Foam Roll for?
It will depend on your current tissue quality. If you are exceptionally tight, you will have to spend more time on the affected area to restore its condition. You generally only have to spend 1 to 2 minutes on each area. If you are extremely tight, you may have to spend additional time. The important thing is to identify the tight areas then make them your priority.
Where Should You Foam Roll?
You should identify areas that feel tight and work on them. If the hamstring is the problem, work on it. If the calf is not causing problems, don’t touch it. It is that simple. If your joint is sore, attack either below or above it (for instance, if you are experiencing knee pain, work on the hip and ankle/calf area). IT is also important to note that you shouldn’t jump straight into a deep tissue style of foam roller immediately. This will cause some serious pain. When first starting out with a foam roller, you should also go with a less firm/dense sleeve as it will not cause you as much discomfort and pain.
The Fit Harmony 360 is a good beginners foam roller as it comes as a twin pack. One roller is less dense and more spongey like. Perfect for first timers. The second roller is a deep tissue roller for when you have gotten use to foam rolling and ready to dip deep into the muscle for relief.
Should You Use A Foam Roller?
A foam roller is an incredible tool to help you experience relief in aching joints. If you have been following what has been discussed here, you should have the answer to the question on how foam rollers work. Now you know that they do work on relieving pain, strain and a are awesome gym preparation equipment its time to take action. The important thing is to be proactive. Don’t just buy a foam roller and leave it sitting in your garage. Find the time every day to use it and you will feel and move better. Gradually work your way up to a deep tissue massager to reduce the amount of pain these beasts can cause. Other than that, be careful on your lower back and enjoy the pleasure a foam roller can give.