The foam roller has become a popular item in local gyms and weight rooms over the past few years. Everyone from first-timers to elite level athletes recognize the value in spending some time rolling back and forth on the brightly colored tubes, slowly working out the knots and releasing and loosening the myofasical tissue.
We know using the foam roller feels good, but what are the exact benefits that this wonderful new tool provides? Here are five proven ways that using a foam roller will help you become a better, more mobile athlete.
1. It will help to reduce muscle soreness. We’ve all been there—after a devastating workout we hobble home, limp up the stairs, and collapse into the couch, wondering how we will be able to roll out of bed the following morning. While foam rolling won’t completely eliminate the limiting effects of crushing muscle soreness (DOMS), it has been shown by numerous studies to help reduce its severity. When participants used a foam roller immediately after a workout for 20 minutes, 24 hours later, and again 48 hours later, they reported significantly less soreness compared to the control group.
2. Foam rolling will help you recover faster. That rugged soreness that infects our bodies after a thorough thrashing at the gym usually means we end up waiting longer between workouts. While we have already talked about reduced soreness, foam rolling can also keep athletic performance at its peak. When a group of college athletes did a 20-minute foam rolling protocol they were much better able to perform compared to the control participants in a series of athletic tests, from a 30m sprint to a change-of-direction test. Spending some time on the foam roller will help you bounce back faster.
3. Using a foam roller will help improve mobility and flexibility. Almost all of us have a couple muscles and areas where we are eternally stiff and inflexible. For most, it is the hips and hamstrings from being a culture of sitters. Combining a foam roller with static stretching has been shown to be more effective at improving flexibility compared to either one of them on their own. Use your foam roller to target those eternally stiff trouble spots so that you can enjoy the freedom of full range of motion.