We’ve already got too much on our plates. When someone comes along telling us that we really need to carve out some time to roll around on a foam cylinder… mehhh.
I’m sorry to tell you, though, that you actually really should. Come on. Let me tell you a little about what’s in it for you, and make this activity a little more enticing.
First of all, we need to talk fascia. Do you know what it is? Fascia covers pretty much every part of your body and essentially holds us together. It’s comprised of collagen fibers, that surround and penetrate your muscles, organs and nerves. If there’s something within you that is literally fucking holding you together… you might wanna take care of it. Yes?
Ok. So, what foam rolling does, is assist us with something called “myofascial release”. Myofascial release is what happens when we apply pressure to different parts of our bodies to eliminate adhesions and release tension within the fascia. See, when your job is to keep a body together, you get worn out. Between our day-to-day movements and our various fitness routines, our fascia can become sore and restricted – obviously restricting our movement, considering it’s surrounding our muscles. Often times there will be little tears in the fascia that don’t heal properly, which causes adhesions to develop. As we release these adhesions and the tension, we restore our bodies back to its natural state and regain our fullest range of movement.
What are some other benefits? Well we just talked about having full range of movement – and with consistent practice, you will notice an increase in your flexibility. You’ll also notice a decrease in soreness. You know how you work out and 1-2 days later you’re gimping around and moaning in agony every time you have to sit down or stand up? Yeah. Foam rolling can help with that. It can also prevent injuries that happen because we’re overusing muscles and forcing movements that are too strenuous when everything is tight.
There aren’t just fitness related benefits. One major perk we get from foam rolling is improved circulation. Our blood carries oxygen through our body… so it’s kind of important that it can move. Poor circulation can cause a whole lot of problems. If your blood isn’t flowing like it should be, you may experience symptoms such as numbness in limbs, impaired cognitive ability and a weak immune system. When we practice myofascial release, we improve our circulation by breaking up any tight areas where blood flow may be restricted. Not only does it keep our oxygen flowing, rolling can also lower cortisol – that’s your stress hormone. So while you’re prancing around limber as hell, you’re gonna feel damn good, too.
Foam rollers are easy to find, can be found at super reasonable prices, and come in different shapes, sizes, density levels and textures. If you’re just beginning – go with one that’s longer (around 36″), on the softer side, and without texture – such as this one. (Note: the color of the roller will often hint at the density level – white being softest, and black hardest.) Also note: I had to word that previous sentence really carefully. The first time I wrote it, we entered erotic novel territory. Anyway, make sure you start off basic and learn the ropes. Don’t dive in with the most dense, rigid little roller out there, trying to achieve maximum results in minimum time. You will hurt yourself.
There are resources all over the web for learning how to properly do this. Below is a video I like to use as a guide. And to answer the question of our headline… Yes. Unless you like to live in pain and without blood flow, foam rolling is worth it. Now, go on. Roll out.