How Foam Rollers Help Loosen Muscles
Foam rollers have had little research on how it helps with muscle tension, yet the few studies done on a small sample rate do show relief. Our bodies have receptors that send information to the brain. They communicate – via nerves – data about our muscles, including joints, ligaments, tendons, and skin. For communication to happen well, nerves need to be taken care of and kept in balance. They need to be able to move freely with no compression, a healthy supply of blood, and a balance of chemicals. Daily static activities such as sitting at a desk on the computer all day restrict our body movement. The restriction means some muscles are not activated and may suffer from poor blood flow and physical compression. Compression of the nerves or blood vessels can generate a feeling of pain, tension, and stiffness, which is the brain’s way of telling you that you are close to tissue damage.
Until recently, the fascia – a web of connective tissue found around our muscles, has not had modern medicine’s full attention. However, nowadays, it is all we hear about in terms of muscle tension relief. The fascia surrounds our muscles and helps them move. When the fascia has been too static, the tissues tighten up and need to be loosened. All of these fibers should be gliding through each other with ease as we move. Sometimes, these fibers can get tangled. When this occurs, the fascia is no longer able to keep the muscles moving flexibly. Experts maintain that these tangles develop for several reasons, such as muscle damage, inactivity, illness, swelling, or trauma. Myofascial release may help separate these fibers and re-establish the integrity of the tissue.
Foam rolling, when combined with Yin Yoga can do wonders. Yin Yoga is a widespread practice that focuses on releasing the tissue. The long, deep stretches help us target the trigger point that needs release. You will notice the difference in muscles and flexibility immediately when you have done one side of your hip and not yet the other. Yin Yoga is effective and is not invasive compared to dry needling. In dry needling, a physiotherapist inserts a needle at the exact point the fascia is stiff. It is pretty intense for some! But luckily, foam rolling is now a big trend, and there are many different types of foam rollers available, making it easy for everyone to do this relaxing technique at home whenever they feel like it.
Foam Rollers Benefits
Pablo B. Costa, Ph.D. – associate professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton, and part of the research committee member for the National Strength and Conditioning – suggests that foam rollers help heat up the body ahead of a workout, recover from one, or loosen tight muscles. It is a self-myofascial technique that smoothes over the fascia so perfectly that it can relieve any stiff trigger point.
Research shows that foam rolling:
- helps reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness
- activates muscles before a workout making it easier to use them
- boosts your performance on your next workout
- increases muscle flexibility
- hits trigger points, or knots, and massages out
A lesser-known benefit of foam rolling is the positive impact it has on your posture. More people forget to keep their back straight, shoulders relaxed and instead resorted to slouching. Slouching increases muscle tightness and reduces flexibility. Foam rolling can not only relieve the tension in those muscle areas, but it can also help with the alignment of your spine. Understanding how straight and robust your spine is, is key to a good posture. Foam rolling can help you feel out where you may be twisting or in need of extra attention.
Best Myofascial Foam Rollers To Buy:
OPTP Axis Foam Roller
Best Foam Roller For Runners: Most runners know how important it is to keep the muscles of the lower back, hips, and feet nice and flexible. The OPTP Axis Foam Roller is dense enough to be long-lasting and perfect to use before and after your daily runs. And don’t forget to roll out your those feet! The feet play an essential role in keeping your body in balance and supporting your hips and back.
Not shiny or slippery
It may be too hard for some
Amazon Basics High-Density Round Foam Roller
Best High-Density Foam Rollers: The foam roller’s density is important. If you select a roller that is too soft, you will not feel the pressure in your trigger points. On the other hand, the Amazon Basic High-Density Roller is perfect for people who need a hard touch to get right into the knots. At a reasonable price, this roller is strong enough to withstand the toughest.
Available in 18, 24 and 36-inch sizes
Excellent quality for the price
Raised seams on both sides
LuxFit Foam Roller
Physical Therapy Foam Rollers: Looking for a foam roller to soothe your muscles and fascia but unsure what to do? The LUXFFIT Speckled Foam Roller comes with a free online instructional video for physical therapy.
Perfect for after high-intensity training
The speckles can stick out and catch your clothing
Yes4All EPP Foam Roller
Foam Rollers Stretching: Foam rollers are great for stretching before and after a workout as it helps heat the muscles as you would during a warm-up and down. The Yes4All EPP Foam Roller is dense and can support up to 130 KG of weight and molds quickly back into shape after you have used it. You can squeeze down and put as much pressure as you’d like, and the roller will shape itself back into its original form in time for its subsequent use.
Some people do not agree with the chemicals in the product
Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller
The Gaiam Restore Muscle Massage Therapy Foam Roller is semi-firm in density, making it the ideal massage alternative. This roller still allows you to get a deep tissue or a lighter massage depending on how much pressure you put on it. The roller comes with an instructional video of how best to relieve tension as you would with a massage therapist.
Perfect firmness for a massage
It does not keep its shape
Trigger Point The Grid
Foam Roller For Trigger Points: This foam roller is top-rated in the sports world. Runners, dancers, and those beginning a workout at home consistently choose the Trigger Point The Grid for its bumps and overall structure. The foam roller allows you to give yourself a full massage without any bruising. Some foam rollers can be quite hard, but the Trigger Point is the correct density for a great experience. Its perfect size empowers you to hit all significant tension points of the body. Professionals say that it is the closest item you can find that replicates a therapist’s fingertips and palms. With many physiotherapists and trainers advising Trigger Point as the go-to, it is not surprising that this product won the best foam roller in Prevention’s 2021 Fitness Awards.
Hard but light-weight
Does not crack
It is too hard for some people
Can leave marks on your body
TriggerPoint Grid Vibe Plus
Vibrating Foam Roller: Celebrity personal trainers are raving about vibrating foam rollers – especially TriggerPoint Grid Vibe Plus Vibrating technology enables you to do wonders in terms of reducing pain and helping muscles recover after a workout or yoga practice. The vibrations generate extra heat to your muscle tissue which helps them relax. It is instrumental in targeting the IT band around your thighs, as well as your glutes and quads. The modern foam roller comes with three different vibration functions and comes with a rechargeable battery that will do you for 2 hours.
Great customer service
On/Off button has problems over time
Monument Phenom – 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
Foam Roller Myofascial Release: Designed with the human anatomy in mind, the Monument Phenom – 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller will give you the best myofascial recovery. The unique gel material gives it an extra touch regarding the feel and pressure the roller puts on your body.
Great for herniated discs
Charge lasts 12 days
The vibration setting does not always function well
OPTP Pro Soft Roller
Soft Foam Roller: It is very common for people to look for durability and hardness in their foam rollers, but others are more sensitive and need a lighter touch. The OPTP Pro Soft Roller is perfect as it does not have ridges. Using a plain roller will still give you relief without causing pain in your muscles.
Easy on the body
Less pain than a hard roller
Blue Dye runs when wet
Deep Recover Travel Size Foam Roller
Small Foam Roller: The Deep Recover Travel Size Foam Roller mini roller is perfect for the avid traveler. It is only 4 inches in diameter, making it small enough to pack into your rucksack or luggage. Although small in size, it is still dense enough to get the trigger points needing release.
Great for neck pains
It fits perfectly in a carry-on
Too soft to support heavier weight
Cando Full Skin Extended Half Foam Roller
Half Foam Roller: Some people prefer to have a bit more balance when using a foam roller. Half foam rollers are cut in half horizontally, creating a flat surface on one side and rounded on the other. The Cando Full Skin Extended Half Foam Roller helps you maintain your balance during your myofascial massage.
Great for aligning the spine
Possible to do ankle exercises
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to material, a foam roller is polyethylene foam, which is softer but can warp over time, or an EVA foam which is denser and a bit more durable. Some rollers have reinforced plastic cores to help maintain density and increase their durability.
Simply locate the tight area, place the roller underneath, and let your body weight fall. The roller will press into the focused muscle area and dig deep to relieve the tightness with its ridges.
Rollers have ridges that efficiently target trigger points in the fascia. Once you roll the bumps on your trigger points, the fascia relieves tension and makes your muscles more flexible. The ridges on rollers are the closest product in the market that mimics a masseur’s hands.
There is a good bit of debate around this topic. Some argue that the rollers cause you more long-term damage than they do good. According to Time Magazine, research has shown that foam rollers do help, but perhaps it is more mental than physical. Tiffany Field from the University of Miami says that foam rolling may be stimulating pressure receptors linked to the brain. The brain tells our nervous system to relax and helps us stress less.
You can buy the foam roller of your choice online, in a sports shop or yoga studio.
Foam rolling has a reputation for helping with cellulite. But this is not exactly true. Most people agree that rollers increase inflammation after having rubbed through all those knots in your body. The inflammation creates a sort of swelling which hides your cellulite rather than helps you get rid of it. If you really want to get rid of cellulite, then exercise, and a good diet are the two main areas you should focus on. Adding in a rolling session before you go to the beach will always be handy, yet temporary.