Foam Rollers and their benefits associated with Health and Fitness
If you are wondering what foam rolling is, it is an exercise technique that helps in increasing flexibility, reducing soreness, and eliminating muscle knots. Foam rollers, used in this technique, are made of compressed foam rolled in the shape of cylinders. Foam rolling is also referred to as an SMR (self-myofascial release) technique. According to many physical health professionals, foam rolling can be an effective way to relax your muscles, which makes it a great warm-up or cool-down exercise. SMR has gained popularity in the fitness world over the years. Muscle tension and pain that may be caused by overuse, trauma or even inactivity are the major reasons for poor muscle performance and recovery. Research has shown that SMR can be very helpful in nullifying these effects. If you are a fitness seeker and go to the gym regularly, you can add foam rolling into your warm-up exercises as it is known to increase your performance in the gym.
Benefit of foam rolling includes:
- Increase in ROM (range of motion)
- Eases muscle pain
- Relieves back pain
- Manage fibromyalgia symptoms
- Reduces cellulite
Increase in ROM (range of motion)
ROM or range of motion determines how flexible your body is. Increased ROM means more flexibility. Static stretching is often considered as one of the main methods for increasing joint ROM, but research has shown that static stretching may also decrease your muscle performance in terms of muscle power. “International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy” in one of its research articles concluded that foam rolling increased ROM of the participants while combining foam rolling with static stretching gave an additional increase in ROM. It is also said that foam rolling does not affect muscle power or force it can produce as compared to static stretching, which makes foam rolling a better and safe technique to increase ROM.
Ease in muscle pain
There can be various causes of pain in muscles such as overusing the muscles in physical activity, injury, and nutrients deficiency. But muscle tension or stiffness is the most common condition which leads to pain in muscles. Skipping warm-ups and cool-downs before and after workout sessions can damage your muscles, causing pain. Foam rolling is one of the best ways to warm-up or cool-down. Foam rolling relaxes your muscles by reducing muscle tension and prepares them for the following heavy physical activity. Relaxed muscles coupled with increased joint ROM boost your physical performance during intense physical activity. Foam rolling is also known to decrease delayed muscles soreness as it helps to relax and decompress muscles back to their natural position and also releases the tense trigger points that build up in the fascia.
Back Pain Relief
Back pain is what hits every single person at some point in life. This condition is commonly found in adults above the age of 35. Back pains are usually caused by core muscles stiffness. Poor posture, injury, prolonged inactivity, and too much or sudden physical activity are the common reasons for back pain. Foam rolling can help reduce back pains. When you are foam rolling, it actually puts pressure on your muscles causing them to stretch creating a massage effect. This technique itself can be painful but it helps release tension in back muscles, relieves painful trigger points and eliminates sore knots from prolonged inactivity like sitting in a chair for hours while working. Regular foam rolling keeps your core muscles (upper and lower back muscles) and joints relaxed which keeps you away from back pains. According to physical health professionals, it might not be a good idea to foam roll your lower back as it does not have enough lumbar support to bear the pressure caused by your weight on the roller. Lower back pains are usually caused by inflexibility and poor functionality of muscles and joints surrounding it, such as upper back and shoulder muscles, and hip flexors or glutes. You should focus on these muscles while foam-rolling to get relief from lower back pain rather than focusing on the lower back directly.
Managing Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a long-term chronic condition associated with widespread musculoskeletal pains and is known as the second most common condition affecting your bones and muscles. Fibromyalgia is hard to diagnose as its symptoms can be similar to many other health conditions. Medical professionals relate this condition to abnormal brain activity while processing pain signals from the nerves. Its symptoms include muscle pain, burning and twitching in muscles, and the development of pain trigger points in the fascia. Foam rolling can be an effective technique to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. Although fibromyalgia is a kind of brain dysfunction, this condition can magnify pains caused by muscle imbalance. For example, lower back pains are usually caused by a muscle imbalance in hips and glutes and foam-rolling these muscles help to restore that balance.
Cellulite is a condition in which lumps are formed on the skin. Women are most likely to get affected by this condition. Around 80 to 90 per cent of women get cellulitis at some point in their lives, usually after reaching adulthood. This condition, in simple terms, develops when fat binds to the fascia (tissues that hold and structure the shape of the muscles) under the skin and appears in the form of lumps or dimples. Cellulitis, in some cases, can also be developed as the result of accumulation of toxic fluids under the skin. Since cellulitis are associated with fascia, physical health experts consider foam-rolling as a valuable method to reduce it. Foam rolling is an SMR or Self-Myofascial Release technique which is known to keep your fascia healthy and theoretically can help reduce cellulite. Also, foam-rolling can be affective if cellulites are developed from accumulation of fluids under the skin as pressure created by your body weight on the foam roller will drain those fluids out through pores in your skin. It is important to understand that foam-rolling has the potential to make cellulite feel less noticeable but there is no evidence that it can eliminate cellulitis.
Foam Rollers for every-day workout routine
Foam rolling can be a great way to keep your muscles relaxed and making it a part of your everyday workout routine both for warm-up and cool-down can be beneficial in many ways. Even if you are not into workouts for fitness, foam rolling before the start of the day or going to bed can give noticeable results in terms of physical stability, as it relaxes your muscles and relaxed muscles contribute substantially to your overall health and well being.