If you have not gotten on the foam rolling train, you might just be missing out on the best way to stretch and massage your muscles. Foam rolling has started to become more and more mainstream, used by not just professional athletes or physical therapists, but by all levels of fitness enthusiasts. And, for good reason: foam rolling is incredibly simple to do and, most importantly, it works. However, if you are just starting to dip your toes into the world of foam rolling, you might be a little unsure about when you should be doing it. You might presume that it is just for a post-workout stretch time or to be utilised on rest days, but can it be a useful addition to your pre-workout routine?
What Is Foam Rolling?
For the uninitiated, foam rolling is a method of rolling your muscles with a foam roller (usually a simple cylinder made of foam or soft plastic) to release fascia in your muscles. Fascia is a thin tissue that lies between the muscles and connects them, helping them to function and work together as muscle groups. Usually, it will smoothly move around over your muscles, but sometimes (from an injury, muscle overworking, inactivity, or inflammation) it can become bound up and stiff. Foam rolling can help to release and smooth out the fascia, allowing for increased muscle performance and recovery.
When Should You Foam Roll?
Foam rolling is often advertised as the best way to enhance your recovery after a workout. You can use the roller to work the muscles that you focussed on during the workout and feel out if any areas of your body might be feeling a little stiff, overworked, or in need of attention. Post-workout you will be stimulating and increasing blood flow to the muscles that have just been worked, improving their ability to recover.
However, you do not need to only roll after a workout! It is suggested that by foam rolling before a workout, you can stimulate the muscles that are about to be worked, leading to increased performance in the workout to come. By increasing circulation to those areas and releasing any pent up tension or stiffness, you are less likely to injure yourself during the workout. You are more likely to perform at a higher level. Some suggest that this rolling may prime your body not just physically, but also on a neurological and mental level – as you let your body know what to expect in the workout to come. Though it may not provide a dramatic improvement to your workout ability, foam rolling before a workout can be a great addition to a warm-up routine will stimulate your muscles. It may help to prevent strain or injury.
Therefore, you can use a foam roller before or after a workout and see great results to your performance, muscle strength, and recovery times – and all it takes is a simple foam cylinder.
If you would like to learn additional information about the advantages of foam rolling, then you should do our Foam Rolling course. For more information, please follow this link.