Think you have to head to the spa each time you need to soothe sore muscles? Think again! Foam rolling or self-myofascial release (SMR) is like an anytime massage. Foam rolling speeds recovery and reduces the injuries. Anyone can do it. Here’s how…

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a tube shaped piece of foam. These devices come in a number of shapes and sizes and are used to give a personal deep tissue massage.

Yes. Use the foam roller to release trigger points or tight spots in your muscles. Performing this treatment on yourself is much like a massage in that you are applying rolling and static pressure to the muscles.

exercise-1284370_640I’m sold! How do I get started?
Foam rolling can feel awkward at first. It is best to practice on an area before you are sore so you can get the hang of it. For your practice session start with your hamstrings or another muscle of your choosing. Place the foam roller on the floor under the muscle. Support your body with hands, palms down, arms straight and elbows slightly bent. Cross one foot over the other and slowly roll back and forth. The movement should apply steady, gentle pressure over about an inch of your muscle at a time. If you notice a knot or a tight spot, simply hold there and breathe for several seconds before continuing to roll. Notice if you feel any difference. Muscles generally begin to release with gentle pressure within 30 seconds.

Why else is foam rolling a good idea?
Foam rolling is actually good for you. Here are some of the benefits:
•    Better flexibility and range of motion
•    Better muscle balance
•    Reduced muscle contraction for greater functional muscle length
•    Faster muscle recovery
•    Reduced tension and stress throughout the body

What should I do after my self-massage?
If you have ever had a spa massage before, the therapist probably advised you to drink plenty of water after the treatment. The same advice is important for foam rolling. Water and minimally process foods will help you flush any toxins released with rolling. Foam rolling is helpful but don’t be tempted to overdo it. You may feel sore from the pressure after foam rolling, so avoid rolling the same spot for a day or two.

Your muscles work hard for you at the gym and all day long. Foam rolling is a good way to practice self-care.