Wanna know a secret?
I have a mad mad mad mad LOVE for the foam roller. For reals. I personally own two foam rollers, and you’ll find them in random places in my home. Yes, I actually do use them often. I also have a mini foam roller that is usually in my car, just in case of emergency (yes, in case of a foam roller emergency, does that make me weird???) In addition to my personal love of this amazing therapeutic tool, as someone who holds a diploma in Sports Massage Therapy, I have a mad professional love for the roller as well. I have been known to occasionally (or for some clients, often and repeatedly) recommend that my massage clients use a foam roller between massage appointments. Some people love their foam roller, they know the benefits of using one, and these folks sing the praises of this great therapy tool. Then there are those (y’all know who you are) that just don’t embrace the idea quite as willingly. This post is for those people who think I sound like a broken record, and don’t understand why I keep recommending it…
What’s so GREAT about this thing called the Foam Roller?
The human body is AH-MAZ-INGly intricate in its design. In a perfect world, we would all have full range of motion, great circulation, no pain, and energy and vitality forever. But alas, perfection is overrated. Most people have a handle on eating right, exercising regularly, and maintaining their work schedule and kids activities… but how many people slow down enough to stretch and relax everyday? I see a whole lot of people walking around in pain or with restricted range of motion, when they really don’t have to be. The few minutes it takes to stretch and foam roll each day can truly make a world of difference in how we move and feel!
Foam rollers are simple yet powerful healing tools. Have you ever seen one? It is literally a long cylindrical roll of hardened foam (see the picture above, its one of the foam rollers I own myself!) At one time, foam rollers were only exclusively utilized in physical therapy settings. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais has been credited with being the first person to use the foam roller in the 1950s. Can you believe that? At one time, the simple foam roller was an exclusive therapy tool! Today, the foam roller is easily accessible, used not only in physical therapy, but also in gyms, yoga and Pilates classes, and even in private homes. How lucky are we today??
What good things come from using a foam roller?
Well, for starters, the foam roller will increase your circulation. It will also improve your range of motion, balance, core stability, and flexibility. When you use a foam roller, you’re helping yourself to break up interwoven muscle fibers which then allows for blood and oxygen to move into those areas… this is a GREAT thing, and it’s very similar in how myo-fascial release techniques work when you get a professional massage. See that? It’s like giving yourself a massage, people! All of these benefits lead to a better balanced body, which will ultimately improve the function of your muscles, lessen tightness and pain, and improve posture and muscle alignment.
In addition to the physical benefits of using the foam roller, you’ll also benefit emotionally, too. Foam rollers help you engage and focus on your own body awareness. We know that stress, overuse, and abuse can lead to tightness in muscles. But did you know EMOTIONS can also lead to tight or sore muscles as well?
If you are my client, or if you have read any of the pages on my website, you know that energy and emotions get stored in the body and can potentially become a physical ailment. I’m not the only one preaching this message! My friend and soul sister, Elle Bieling, is an AMAZING Holistic Health Coach. Elle describes how emotions can create tension in the body. She says on her website:
” You hold tension in your body as a result of your habitual stress patterns. Emotions and movement are very closely related. You repress emotions by restricting the movement of your body! When you tense and restrict the movement in your body all sorts of trouble ensues.”
When I do recommend that clients use the foam roller, I will also suggest that they also check out Elle’s very comprehensive website, The Body Window, for additional info on Foam Rolling. The Body Window website has great articles, videos on how to foam roll, and a wonderful plethora of information on how emotions affect how our body functions. I found The Body Window website for my own self care and I have and do use her techniques personally. Click on the link above highlighted in red to check out Elle’s website for more foam roller goodness.
Why doesn’t everyone use the foam roller?
Ok, so I’m not going to lie to y’all. Some may say torture device, I say therapeutic tool… Listen, the foam roller can potentially feel uncomfortable at first. But the discomfort only lasts a few seconds until you get going on the roller. Even though it’s very temporary, some people just can’t or won’t help themselves with a foam roller. They focus solely on that initial discomfort or pain, and not on all the great benefits to be had. Push past that initial discomfort, and you will feel awesome, I promise!
You are always in control with the amount of pressure and time that you focus on each area while using a foam roller. When you integrate your body and mind, as techniques at The Body Window suggest, your brain will signal the muscles to soften and relax as you roll. Perform the exercises slowly, with control, and focus on the area you are rolling. Make sure you avoid rolling over any joints of the body. And really tune in to your muscles and remember to breathe! Always listen to your body, and only do the movements that feel comfortable to you. When in doubt, consult with a professional for assistance with proper technique.
Look, people, if you are going to invest the time into that cardio workout or yoga class, or in the gym, or even on that long run… add just a few minutes to your workout to stretch and foam roll afterwards. Think of the foam roller as an extension of your workout. Or if you are taking the day off of exercise, just spend a few minutes with your roller… your body will thank you for the self massage! If you are not an active person, maybe you’re even a couch potato, you can absolutely benefit from a foam roller, too… maybe you sit and watch tv in the evening.. if that’s your thing, take the time during a commercial break to pull out the foam roller and take it for a spin.
The fact that foam rollers are inexpensive, portable, lightweight, and can be stored anywhere (in a closet, under the bed, in the corner of a room, or in my case right this minute, by the coffee table… ) makes them essential health tools to own. They can be used in the privacy of your own home, at the gym, in the park… pretty much anywhere. And they only take a few minutes out of your day to use with bigtime benefits to your body for the long-term. You can use your foam roller prior to exercise to improve range of motion, or after exercise to relax tight muscles and reduce soreness. With such great benefits, seems like a no brainer that we should all have (and USE) a foam roller. Get yourself a foam roller, and feel that mad love for it, and feel some mad love for your own beautiful self, as well!!
Hey, gorgeous… have you, or do you currently use a foam roller? Have you experienced relief from pain, muscle tightness, or tenderness with foam rolling? Do you have mad love for health and feeling good? Shoot me your story, I want to know!