Get Serious with Your Foam Roller

This is the first in a series of posts about developing your home fitness space. Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and tools!

We consider our foam rollers to be our close friends. They often get a bad rap, as they have a reputation for causing extreme discomfort, but we are here to assure you that this is a "hurts so good" situation. If used properly, you stand only to score maximum body benefits from your foam roller. 

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What & why: Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that releases adhesions (irregularities, like scar tissue) that build up in your muscles and fascia (connective tissue). This is important because adhesions essentially weaken muscles, which can lead to injury and pain over time. The practice is also thought to increase blood flow, improve mobility, and speed recovery. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that foam rolling before exercise leads to less fatigue afterward. 

How: Foam rolling is an exercise that requires only the roller and your own body weight. Identify the area you are targeting and place the foam roller in such a way that you can roll back and forth across that spot. Roll out the muscle knot you are working for at least 60 seconds (up to 30 times). This may be unpleasant, so keep breathing! You can also watch our ULTIMATE TRANSFORMATION video on foam rolling for an in-depth demonstration of foam rolling technique for your knees, lower back, and shoulders. 

Tools: There are many different brands, shapes, sizes, and materials for foam rollers, but we recommend starting with the basic white, round, 36-inch roller. After you adapt to the sensation, you can graduate to a firmer or textured roller. 

Do not: It is possible to foam roll incorrectly, which can hurt rather than help. A couple of reminders: 

1. Roll around a sensitive area, not over it. Rolling out inflammation can cause more inflammation. Move a few inches away and start there. 

2. Roll slowly, and don't overdo it. Allow your muscles time to reap the healing benefits of foam rolling, but don't overstress them by spending 5-10 minutes in one spot. 

To create a foam rolling habit, start small and build gradually. If you are collecting equipment for a home gym--or simply accumulating tools to further your fitness routine--put the foam roller at the top of your list! 

Your biggest fans in health and wellness, 

Angela and Team TRANSFORM