You may have heard of foam rolling - the fitness trend has taken over social media. For those who don't know, foam rolling is using a firm exercise cylinder to self-massage different areas of the body. But the practice is far more than just a passing craze, and can have big benefits for your health and wellness.
Foam rolling can eliminate "adhesions" in your muscles and tissue that can create harmful weak spots in the body, as strength and conditioning expert Chris Howard explained in an interview with The Huffington Post. It also can improve mobility, boost blood circulation, increase flexibility and ease muscle aches and soreness.
However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when thinking about adding foam rolling to your fitness routine:
Choose the right roller
It can be overwhelming to browse foam rollers online or in a store, as there are may different sizes and densities available. It's important to know that foam rollers do not have a lot of "give," and are relatively hard to the touch. Newcomers should select a low- or medium-density roller and steer clear of the higher-density ones until they are more experienced. In terms of length, a longer foam roller can be good for taller individuals, while shorter ones can work well for smaller people as well as those with limited workout space.
Take a gentle approach
To reap the most benefits from foam rolling, roll back and forth over the targeted muscle over the foam for at least 30 seconds, according to MindBodyGreen. Do so gently and avoid over-working your muscles. Foam roll for 5-10 minutes per day, ideally after you work-out. If you're concerned about the effects of foam rolling, consult your doctor before incorporating it into your fitness routine.
Steer clear of pain
When you first start foam rolling, you may feel some tenderness in your muscles. However, it shouldn't be painful, as physical therapist Stephanie Shane noted in an interview with Women's Health magazine. If you do feel pain, change your position. Also avoid using the foam roller directly over your joints and bones, between your rib cage and hips - due to the location of many organs - as well as your neck.
Keep these considerations in mind when thinking about adding foam rolling to your fitness routine!