What Is A Foam Roller For? Reasons To Use It During Your Workout

by Funmi // in Fitness

What is a foam roller for? What does it do to your body? What are the benefits of using one in your workout routine?

We have compiled four reasons to use a foam roller in your workout routine to answer this question and few other questions you might have.

If you want to learn how to use a foam roller correctly during your workouts or even purchase one for yourself - read on!

What is a Foam Roller?

what is a foam roller for

A foam roller is a cylindrical, polyurethane cylinder that is used as a massage tool. What does it do? A lot!

Foam rollers are one of the most popular pieces of workout equipment today, and for a good reason: they help to reduce muscle soreness and pain, decrease stiffness in muscles, increase flexibility, improve blood flow throughout your body (to name a few benefits).

What's more - foam rollers are relatively inexpensive.

What is a foam roller for?

what is a foam roller for

A foam roller is a round cylinder used on the floor and while lying down to massage muscles.

The foam roller provides a deep tissue massage that helps improve flexibility, relieve muscle soreness, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, or relax as a form of self-care.

A foam roller can be made from any material, including PVC pipe with closed-cell EVA foam for firmness and closed-cell polyethylene foam with a long-lasting surface texture.

There are many benefits you can enjoy when using your own body weight as resistance to work out on the roller, including:

  1. Self-massage therapy
  2. Increased circulation in tight areas
  3. Strength building while maintaining flexibility
  4. Prevent future injuries
  5. Increased range of motion in joints and muscles.

Foam rollers are often used during a warm-up to loosen tight and stiff areas and after a workout for self-massage therapy or stretching.

You can use foam rollers to lengthen your body while maintaining flexibility by rolling over tight muscles.

What size should you get, and how much does it cost?

what is a foam roller for

Factor in what size you want your foam roller to be. What are the dimensions for a standard, medium or large? What do these sizes cost on average?

If you need help deciding which size is best, I recommend going with a smaller one and upgrading as needed when space appears limited.

As for the cost, they can range anywhere from $15 to upwards of $100. What you're paying for is typically the density and durability of your foam roller.

The more expensive ones are denser (which means it will take a longer time before needing replacement) and heavier, which may impede your workout routine if you have to carry them long distances.

The cheaper ones are lighter and more flexible but won't last as long before breaking down or shredding apart.

What you decide to buy will depend on your personal preferences for density and weight, the roller's size needed to properly foam roll a muscle group (hence why smaller is often best for starting), and your budget.

How to use it: What are the benefits of using a foam roller?

what is a foam roller for

The popular belief about foam rolling as a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) has been in use since 1978 when researchers from the Strength and Conditioning Journal published their findings.

What is now known as "self-myofascial release" was originally coined by a researcher named John F. Barnes in his 1987 paper, The Importance of Self-Myofascial Release: A Potentially Underutilized Modality.

Since the 1990s, research has shown that foam rolling decreases muscle tightness and reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Recent research has also shown that foam rolling is an effective form of massage therapy.

What's more, a recent study from the American College of Sports Medicine found it to be just as good at reducing post-exercise pain and stiffness in healthy individuals.

Deeper Dive:

August 25, 2021

July 26, 2021

The four reasons why you should use a foam roller in your workout routine are:

  • You want to reduce muscle tightness, DOMS and post-exercise pain
  • It's a great form of massage therapy that can provide relief for sore muscles. What is more, it has been shown as an effective treatment method for those with fibromyalgia
  • Foam rolling can help you to improve your flexibility and posture
  • It is a great way for athletes to warm up before their workout. What's more, it has been shown as an effective treatment method for those with fibromyalgia.

4. How to use a foam roller correctly during your workouts

what is a foam roller for

Before you use a foam roller, you must warm up your muscles.

This will help prevent strain or injury. An additional strategy is to include stretching as a component of your warm-up routine.

Instead, you might want to do foam roll before and after a workout, not in the middle of attempting any exercises.

What this does is give your muscles time to recover from the workout and prepare for another one.

This also provides an opportunity for the muscle tissue to lengthen without much resistance, which can lead to more significant long-term growth and long-term recovery from daily life activities.

What this can also do is provide relief and realign the joint to decrease pain levels.

What to do before and after the foam rolling session?

A good way to start is by stretching out the muscles you plan on rolling before you start. After rolling, stretch the tight muscles again for a few minutes. You can also do kneading or petrissage-type movements on muscles to help them relax.

After rolling, stretch the tight muscles again for a few minutes.

You can also do kneading or petrissage-type movements on muscles to help them relax.

What does it mean if my foam roller is too hard? 

This means that your body might be feeling more tension than necessary. What you can do is adjust the foam roller's firmness by adding or removing some of its sleeve layers to make it softer and more gentle on your body."

What is a foam roller for

Final Thoughts on What a foam roller is used for?

With this article, we hope to have answered your questions about foam rollers.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your foam roller and get ready to experience a deep tissue massage that will leave you feeling refreshed.

If this article has cleared up any questions or concerns about how the process works, make sure to ask below in the comments section if there is anything else we can help with!

More Resources

A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery


About the author 


Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses.

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