After my first marathon I planned a well-deserved full body massage. That time on the table was just what my aching muscles needed. Unfortunately, my budget will not allow a massage after every hard work out. Thankfully, I have another option. Foam rollers provide an effective, affordable alternative. If you haven’t tried this easy recovery strategy you should. Here’s more about why.
Roll away tension
Much like a deep tissue massage, foam rollers help ease tension in your connective tissue and unravel knots in your muscles. Rolling also helps you release fascia buildup in the muscles. These strategies are important tune-ups that reduce recovery time after a tough workout, reduce the likelihood of injury and help your muscles work more efficiently. In other words, using a foam roller after workout can be viewed as an investment in your future performance. Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, might describe that as sharpening the saw because you are preparing the muscle to do its best work.
Foam rolling reduces muscle tightness, breaks down fibrous tissue and increases muscle mobility resulting in greater range of motion. If you have ever had someone rub your tired, stiff shoulders you know exactly what to expect from foam rolling. Much like you have more mobility and less tightness after a shoulder rub, you can expect more flexibility after using a foam roller.
Smooths and lengthens
Foam rollers function much like muscle relaxers in that they smooth the rough spots and even break up scar tissue. Try rolling for a great post workout self-care strategy. You can get the benefits of faster recovery, improved circulation and flexibility, reduced tension and more in just 5 to 10 minutes. Foam rollers are relatively inexpensive. You can find a good one for about $40 or less. Experiment with rollers of different densities and use different movements. For example, it can help to go slow on a firm roller in multiple directions on spots that are especially sore. Use it for 15 to 30 seconds on each body part. Better yet, watch a how to video from a reputable provider. Start rolling after you have had some time to do a post workout cool down, get hydrated and take in a quick snack including protein and carbs.