I know I don't use these babies as much as I should! But I tell you what, when I am super sore in my hamstrings/glutes usually and occasionally my shins if I do some longer running these are the best inventions ever! It's like a miracle the minute you get up from rolling and you can walk pain free, seriously. The soreness comes back but you know that little bit of rolling you did to relieve the pain like that briefly is doing your muscles so much good. When you roll you are using your own body weight to break up scar tissue and helping your muscles to relax to absorb all that blood circulation which speeds up recovery. That's why when you stand up from rolling you can usually just walk pain free and feel so good.
Stretching alone is great but really not enough. No matter how much you stretch, you still can't get to those muscle knots that are deep down in from the build up of facia......facia is a connective tissue that surrounds all our muscles, bones, nerves, veins, arteries, and more. Massaging away fascia build up by foam rolling will help prevent injuries from happening. Like that dang IT band for runners. You know that IT band injury is caused mostly because your muscles are too tight. Keep them long, flexible, and don't let them become too tight. And we would all love to be a little more flexible too. I know I would. Foam rolling definitely helps you become more flexible and keep you flexible.
The foam roller, the stick, and myself for sure have a love/hate relationship. It hurts and its painful but we just go at it for 5 to 10 minutes and I can't believe how much better they make me feel. What is so crazy.....whenever I am super sore and I go to get down with my foam roller, before I even start I immediately start perspiring. Like the nervous sweats, it's so weird! LOL. So I have learned that when you are rolling and come across a sore spot, hold it there for 15 to 30 seconds. That is a tight area that needs that pressure and a little more attention. Best time to roll is right after a workout. It helps your muscles return to proper length and start recovering and not let scar tissue build up.
Although I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a deep tissue massage from a masseuse after every week of working out (I wish!) but that could get costly. The foam roller and the stick do the job just as good if not better. There are several different types of rollers. Each roller effectively stretches the muscles about the same. However, the deeper the ridges on the roller like the one I own in the picture the more intense the stretch will be. I really want to start being more faithful to my foam roller and see if I notice less soreness and tightness.
I bought my rollers from a local running store. And I know some of you will love this, but you can pick one up at TARGET too! I love Target. You can find them at a sporting good stores or amazon as well. I have heard of people using PVC pipe or even pool noodles if you really wanted to be cheap but that might be a little too hard and too soft.