Whenever you’ve had a deep-tissue massage, you’ve probably thought, “It would be nice if someday we could all get regular deep-tissue massages.â€ Fortunately, it turns out that someday is today. Say hello to your new best friend: the foam roller. This relatively inexpensive piece of equipment (you can find a good one for $30) has transformed from a mysterious technique used by professional athletes and therapists to an everyday practice for people at all levels of fitness.
What’s so special about the foam roller? It’s easy to use. Place your target body part on top of the roller and roll back and forth. That’s it. This simple movement targets the myofascia, the mesh-like fibers that form around your muscles in response to damage caused by both working out too much (injury and inflammation) and being inactive. When myofascia get stuck on your muscles, they cause pain and prevent normal muscle movement.
What else is there to love about your new best friend? The effects are immediate. With no stretching, after using a foam roller, you’ll notice changes in your mobility and posture. One study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found foam rolling the quads increased participants’ range of motion by as much as 10 degrees.
Plus, regular foam rolling reduces muscle soreness. A Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise study found participants who rolled post-workout experience peak muscle soreness 24 hours after exercising; those who didn’t roll saw their pain peak at 48 hours.
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