Using a foam roller before and after workouts will help you alleviate soreness and get back to 100%.
Everyone knows that recovery is a crucial component to increasing performance and decreasing the risk of injury. In order to minimize your recovery time, those who train consistently should get proper rest between training sessions, eat properly, and get enough sleep on a nightly basis. However, sometimes those methods aren’t enough to reduce soreness and get you back to 100%. I know because I’ve been there and my athletes have been there…
But this is where your new best friend, the foam roller, comes into play! Foam rollers might look like glorified pool noodles, but they’re an inexpensive, effective, and easy way to speed up the recovery process.
How does foam rolling work?
The demands of training can often cause large amounts of scar tissue and soft tissue adhesions (commonly referred to as “knots”) to develop within the muscle. Believe it or not these are actually responsible for increasing soreness as well as the time it takes to recover.
Foam rolling is based on the concept of self-myofascial release, which is just a technical term for a self-massage. Within the past few decades it’s been proven that professional massage is a very effective way of breaking down “knots” and scar tissue in the muscle, which in turn allow individuals to recover faster. However, I’ll be the first to admit that routine massages are expensive and pretty impractical. Herein lies the beauty of the foam roller; it’s inexpensive and readily available.
So what you will need to reap the benefits?
-Foam roller with a six inch diameter (one foot or three feet in length).
-A solid floor
A Quick Word on Technique
Foam rolling is really pretty simple. Basically, you just want to sandwich the foam roller between the floor and the muscle group you want to work (which should be the muscle group that’s sore). Using your body weight to apply the right amount of pressure, roll slowly and steadily up and down the entire length of the muscle. While doing this, pause only to bear down on specific “knot” areas that you feel need the most work. If you spend anywhere from thirty seconds to two minutes rolling each muscle group (depending on the severity of soreness) you’ll do wonders for alleviating the pain and improving the way you feel during your workout and as well as after them.
It’s important to note that foam rolling can be borderline painful, especially if you’re excessively sore or just starting out. Luckily foam rollers are sold in various densities. Some are a little more solid than a foam pool noodle (usually white) while others have a very dense, very solid feel (usually black). The more dense the roller and the more pressure you apply, the more you’ll work the muscle. That said, applying too much pressure can do more harm than good and could lead to injury.
Progression: When to roll. How often to roll. How long to roll.
Like other aspects of training, the ultimate benefits from using a foam roller won’t occur overnight, but the short term benefits should be relatively noticeable.
Although there’s some debate about when to roll, how often roll, and how long to roll, spending one to two minutes (ten to fifteen minutes total) rolling on each muscle group before a workout will decrease muscle density and make you feel much better throughout the course of your training session. Additionally, rolling after a workout can aid in recovery and help prevent DOMS (aka Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness).
Oh and don’t worry about rolling too often as one can roll on a daily basis or even several times a day and still feel the benefits. Simple trial and error will let you know what’s right for you, but if you make foam rolling a staple of your warm up and cool down you’ll recover faster and be ready to go every time you get into the gym or onto the field.
And 1R, to ensure you’re recovering properly between training sessions, we at OneResult recommend the following post-lift whey protein recovery supplements: