It’s a cylinder of dense foam, sometimes smooth, sometimes textured with bumps or ridges.
Some types come with handles on each end, like a rolling pin used for baking.
But instead of stretching and flattening the dough, a foam roller stretches and massages your muscles.
Foam rollers are an inexpensive tool you can use to massage your muscles at home, and they’ll make a great addition to your workout and self-maintenance routines.
For After Workout Soreness
The most common usage for foam rolling is as a form of self-massage before and after workouts.
When you go through a more intense exercise than usual, your muscle fibers are damaged by small bits of microtrauma. While this is a normal part of the protein production and muscle-building process, it can leave you feeling sore for a few days.
This pain and stiffness are referred to as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and foam rolling can be an effective way to reduce its symptoms.
For Range of Motion
When preparing for a competition or maximum performance, especially when strength, power, and explosive speed are critical, you’ll need to have a full range of flexibility and motion in your joints.
While static stretching can help increase flexibility temporarily, it can decrease your potential power and performance output.
Foam rolling may provide a better way to increase your range of motion while maintaining or even improving your power output. More than just stretching the muscle, foam rolling can reduce arterial stiffness and improve blood flow to and from your muscles.
For Reducing Cellulite
Cellulite is the dimpled, cottage cheese-like appearance of skin that often shows up on the thighs and buttocks as you get older. It happens when some connective tissue that binds your skin to your muscles stiffens and loses its elasticity, causing the fat cells below to bulge through in an uneven pattern.
Although it’s unlikely to eliminate cellulite permanently, foam rolling can help reduce its appearance.
Foam rolling can help loosen up those stiff bands of fascia (connective tissue) and break up the adhesions that are pulling down on your skin and causing the dimpling effect.
For Relieving Tension
As a form of massage, foam rolling can help relieve tension and knots in your muscles. It’s beneficial if you have a muscle that feels tight and sore, but you can’t reach it with your hands.
Foam rolling can also help increase blood flow to the area and improve circulation, speeding up the healing process if something is damaged.
It can be a great way to relax after a long day and help you ease into a comfortable rest. It only takes a few minutes, and you can easily take it anywhere you go.
When you need to relieve some tension, just roll out the kinks with a few minutes of foam rolling, and you’ll feel much better.