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Getting to Grips with a Foam Roller


You might have heard that massages after exercise are a pretty good way of staving off DOMS, speeding up muscle recovery, and just unwinding in general. Great! Except for the fact that getting a paid massage after each gym session could get more than a little pricey.

That’s where foam rollers come in. The concept behind foam rollers is that they allow you to release tension in the membrane-like layer of tissue that covers your muscles and tendons — known as myofascia.

But is foam rolling worth it? And how do you actually go about it? Let’s take a look.


Foam rolling benefits

There are a few scientifically validated benefits to foam rolling. These include the following:

  • Improved circulation — According to a 2017 study, foam rolling was found to improve blood flow to a muscle, even 30 minutes after exercise. More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients reaching a muscle.
  • Improved exercise performance and recoveryResearch from 2015 has suggested that foam rolling can improve range of motion and performance during exercise, and aid recovery.
  • Reduced DOMS — Foam rolling was shown to improve DOMS in a 2015 study. For more information about DOMS, check out this blog post on Everything you need to knwo about DOMS.


Foam roller exercises

  • Iliotibial band (IT) roll

The IT band is a band of tissue near the knee. Issues with the IT band can result in knee and lower back pain and injury.

To roll out your IT band:

  1. Assume a side-on plank position, with the foam roller resting against the leg just under your hip.
  2. Cross the top leg over the bottom one and rest the foot flat on the floor at about knee level.
  3. Place your hands on the floor and use them to roll your leg along the roller, from just below the hip to just above the knee.
  4. Switch and repeat with the other leg.
  • Upper back roll
  1. Assume a sit-up position, with your upper back resting on the foam roller.
  2. Lift your hips off the floor, keep your abs tight, and roll back and forth over the roller, so that it moves between the top of your shoulder blades and the middle of your back.
  • Hamstring and glute roll
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you and your back straight.
  2. Position the foam roller under your hamstrings, just above your knees.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground, and use your hands to roll back and forth across the roller, between your glutes and the area just above your knees.

Want to know more about DOMS and other ways besides foamrolling to help reduce it? Check out our blog on Everything you need to know about DOMS here.

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