8 Benefits Of Foam Roller Exercise: Why You Should Try It

benefits of foam roller

Foam rollers may seem like a simple piece of exercise equipment but don’t go by their appearance. If you’re undertaking any kind of strenuous exercise, foam rolling can be a godsend. These circular pipe-shaped rolls of foam can do wonders for your body before, during, and after a workout. What’s more, they could even help your performance and give you an invigorating massage.

But what exactly are foam roller exercises? Foam rolling is essentially a self-administered therapeutic massage that can help get rid of any restrictions in the myofascial tissue, the connective tissue beneath the skin that surrounds and covers your muscle and bones.1 This rather simple technique can be done on your own to ease muscle tensions as well as tension in soft tissues, fascia, or tendons.2

Here’s why many fitness enthusiasts swear by this particular exercise aid.

1. Get A
Deeper Stretch

The simplest and most obvious reason to use a foam roller when you exercise is to help your stretching. Research has found that you can actually get a deeper stretch if you do foam rolling exercises before static stretching. That’s because the foam roller helps your muscles become more pliable and warms them up before you get into your traditional stretches.3

2. Reduce Muscle Soreness And Pain

If you exercise vigorously, your muscles can sometimes feel painful. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The intensity of this usually rises in the 24 hours following exercise and peaks in the 24 to 72 hour window. After this, the pain begins to reduce and a week later you should have no pain.4 The trigger points that cause pain in the myofascial tissue lie deep within. Foam rollers allow you to massage this area and

ease the discomfort and pain.5

3. Cut Down Performance Decline

Athletes are impeded by muscle soreness and structural damage to their connective tissue and muscle after training or strenuous exercise. Delayed onset muscle soreness can adversely affect muscle function and performance as well as training intensity. Foam rollers can help cut down the decline in performance as a result of muscle soreness. Researchers have found that using foam rollers as part of your routine can positively impact your power, endurance, dynamic strength, and sprint time.6

4. Alleviate Feeling Of Fatigue

Foam rolling can help reduce post-exercise fatigue. In one study, subjects who opted to do foam

roller exercises reported less fatigue than those who opted to do planking. This could have a bearing on your ability to work out for longer and with potentially more training volume.7 Using foam rollers could actually relax you after a workout, a psychological benefit that should not be underestimated, according to the American Council on Exercise.8

5. Improve Range Of Motion

Using a foam roller improved both the passive and dynamic range of motion (ROM) of the subjects when compared to the control group in one study. Researchers suggest that the passive ROM (how far your joints can be moved in various directions) improved while dynamic ROM (doing stretches that are not static and involve movement) was maintained as

a result of foam rolling having an effect similar to myofascial release techniques.9

Studies have shown that it can increase flexibility if done before a workout. In one test measuring performance on sit and reach ROM, hamstring foam rolling was done for multiple durations on test subjects. It was found that the roller massager significantly increased the range of motion, especially when it was used for longer durations. On average, it caused a 4.3 percent increase in ROM in test subjects, with a 10-second rolling duration helping more than a 5-second one.10

6. Reduce Inflammation

Muscular manipulation whether done through other myofascial release techniques, massage, or using

a foam roller, can help improve active blood flow. This enables interstitial fluid, which would otherwise pool and cause swelling, to get back in circulation, thereby cutting inflammation. This inflammation after a workout may be responsible for the pain as well as discomfort amateurs enthusiasts as well as athletes experience.11

7. Reduce Arterial Stiffness And Boost Circulation

Yoga has traditionally been used to help with stretching. Those who practice this form of exercise are also known to have less arterial stiffening than people who lead sedentary lives. Research has found that using a foam roller for self-myofascial release can help vascular endothelial function and ease arterial stiffness. It improved circulation as well as blood flow to the soft tissues. This could have a positive impact on your overall cardiovascular health as well.12

8. Ease Pain And Discomfort Associated With Specific Medical Conditions

If you have injuries due to overuse or strenuous exercise, such as runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, jumper’s knee or infrapatellar tendinitis, or iliotibial band syndrome, you should seriously consider foam rolling for pain relief. In addition, lower back pain and soreness can be alleviated with this exercise tool.13

How To Use Foam Rollers

Foam rollers can be used before or after exercise. A high-density foam roller used for as little as 20 minutes immediately post exercise can help bring down the risk of muscle tenderness and diminished movement after a workout. Do this every 24 hours after the workout as well, for sustained benefits.14

With a

wide variety of foam sizes, shapes, and even levels of firmness to choose from, you should be able to zero in on something that suits your requirements. Most gyms and health clubs will have this handy, so go ahead and ask to use it today! Just take care not to overdo it or focus too much on just one section of the body. Be mindful of anything that feels too painful or uncomfortable – that could be a sign that you’re hurting yourself rather than helping your body. Stop immediately should you experience such pain. It is best to first learn the proper use of the equipment with an instructor or trainer before trying it on yourself alone.