When it comes to working out, lately I’ve been all about getting the most bang for my buck. I’ve been opting for higher intensity workouts over my usual pilates and yoga. Incorporating more sprints has been a welcome change in my routine (and body!), but unfortunately led to my very pesky IT band flaring up, leading to knee pain after my workouts. What’s a girl to do?! Luckily, I got really into foam rolling and it has been a tremendous lifesaver.
Foam rolling is something that’s been around for awhile now. I only recently decided I really wanted to take a deeper look into it. If you aren’t sure what foam rolling is, it’s incorporating an actual foam roll into your workout routine, but the real benefits of foam rolling come from the massage you get by using it. Here’s some of the research and other information I found on the benefits in case you’re interested, too!
How do you foam roll?
The most common way to use a foam roller is with your calves (which can get sore easily and from a lot of workouts). Place it under your calf and slowly roll from your knee to ankle. Then, with the roller under your right leg, your left leg bent and your left ankle crossed over the right, slowly roll again. It’s important to go really slow. You can even let the roller sit under any areas that are extremely sore/tight for up to 30 seconds.
It’s a really simple movement and can also be done with your thighs and arms. Seems simple enough, right?
My favorite is using it on my IT band – your IT band, or iliotibial band, is the ligament that runs from your pelvic bone (hips) all the way down to your shins. This band helps rotate your helps as well as stabilize your knee – when you hear of runner’s knee or IT band syndrome, we’re talking about this part of your body. Foam rolling has done wonders for helping massage my IT band, allowing me to run longer and faster.
Why is the massage from foam rolling so beneficial?
The benefits from foam rolling are all about the mobility of the fascia. What is fascia? It’s a fibrous layer of connective tissue that surrounds the muscles in our body. If the fascia doesn’t have mobility, its fibers become linked and fuse to the muscles and nerves, which prevents normal motion and will cause pain.
That was a lot of science and complicated information, but when you break it down, it does make sense! The main takeaway is that foam rollers help to massage your fascia to keep it from binding to your muscles and nerves. And it’s essential to a healthy body because if the fascia does bind, it can cause constant pain. No thanks!
Foam rolling is also a smart way to loosen your muscles and treat knots that cause muscular pain. Of course you should always see a doctor if you have any health concerns, but you can definitely use foam rolling as a way to treat your body to a massage after a workout – without having to pay a masseuse. It’s especially cool if you’re training for a marathon or doing something constantly challenging.
How often should I foam roll?
Foam rolling isn’t something you need to do for hours to feel the results. Some experts recommend doing it for just a few minutes each day, or up to 15. I do it for around 2-3 minutes everyday, focusing on the spots that are a little more tender or sore. You should look at it as something to help you (and your body) relax, not as work! And, a good foam roller can be found for under $20 – so it’s really a no brainer.
I hope this was helpful and gave you some new info on something that is so good for your body. If you’ve foam rolled before, I want to hear from you and all about your experience!