Foam rolling first became popular as a method of exercise in the 1980s. Physical therapist, Sean Gallagher, was one of the first people to start using a foam roller as a form of self-massage in 1987. Foam rollers quickly grew in popularity, initially in dance communities, while therapists adopted the use of the foam roller for balance and muscle strengthening.
The process of foam rolling is described as a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique. It helps relieve tight muscles and any sore or inflamed areas of the body. It can also help increase the range of motion in joints - it is a great tool to add to your weekly exercise regime either to warm-up or cool down. Below, we answer some of the most popular questions relating to the foam roller.
Is foam rolling actually good for you?
Yes, foam rolling is a really good exercise for self-muscle release. It creates a deep tissue massage and works well on tight muscles that may be causing issues with joints and mobility. You can also use a foam roller to break down scar tissue within muscle and increase blood circulation into muscles.
What is the key benefit of foam rolling?
There are a multitude of benefits associated with foam rollers. Not only do they improve your range of motion and mobility, they can also enhance muscular performance, allowing you to increase power and strength within a workout. Foam rollers help to relieve any existing muscle soreness and speed up recovery if you have a muscle-related injury.
Is it okay to foam roll every day?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to use a foam roller on a daily basis. Like stretching, foam rolling can have a similar effect. It can be integral to the prevention of injury by increasing blood flow, decreasing soft-tissue density and relaxing tight muscles. You can also use a foam roller before and after exercise to increase your flexibility.
Which type of foam roller is best?
Foam rollers differ in size, firmness and surface pattern. Choose a longer foam roller if you wish to work on large muscles and your back areas, while a smaller, hand-held foam roller is better suited to targeting smaller muscles areas . A smaller foam roller has the added advantage of being portable and it allows you to control more easily the amount of pressure being applied.
How much should you look to spend on a roller?
A good quality traditional foam roller will cost you around £35, but you can invest a lot more. For example, a top of the range foam roller with vibration technology will set you back around £170. Cheaper foam rollers under £20 may last a lot less time and could collapse under your body weight.
What is the best foam roller for beginners?
A medium-sized traditional foam roller is the best option for a beginner. We would recommend spending a bit more money on a solid EVA foam core - it is firmer than most traditional rollers and will last longer.
Can foam rolling help me lose weight?
Yes, foam rolling does facilitate weight loss by encouraging deeper muscle activation and improving blood circulation. But it isn't just for recovery, it can help you burn extra calories during your workout too. The foam roller creates an unstable surface which increases the intensity of each exercise - your muscles have to work harder to maintain balance.
How long should I foam roll?
You can foam roll for as long as you feel necessary, there is no set time, but many people have reported they achieved good results using the roller in 2 minute bursts, so 2 x 1 minute sessions separated by a rest period of 30 seconds. Research suggests that using a foam roller for between 1 to 5 minutes on each muscle group is a good starting point, or until a sensation of release is felt.
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