My clients often ask me, “What equipment should I have at home to help me with my fitness goals?” My answer is always the same-
Get a foam roller.
Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or increased endurance, a foam roller will help you reach your goals by preventing injuries and improving post-workout recovery.
Because of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of mobility, a majority of my new clients come to me with sore knees or backs before even starting a workout program. Luckily, most of these minor aches and pains go away quickly with a little extra focus on stretching and mobility by using the foam roller daily.
I describe foam rolling to my clients as a deep tissue massage that you get to do daily, at home, on your own, for free. Foam rollers massage knots out of your muscles in order to allow those muscles to stretch and move correctly. When muscles are correctly mobile you are less likely to get injured during your workout or even during your daily routine.
Additionally, foam rolling can improve circulation and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.
I recommend using the foam roller every morning to help you move and feel better throughout your day. Also, always use it before your workouts. You’ll want to roll on it for about 20-30 seconds per muscle, ideally after a short cardio warm up.
To warm up the lower body I like using a foam roller as a part of Joe DeFranco’s “Limber 11”. He combines the foam rolling with a lower body mobility series that really gets your muscles ready to move.
My favorite way to warm-up the upper body on the foam roller is a chest stretch. Many people have poor posture with a rounded upper back and tight chest and shoulder muscles. Simply laying on the roller with arms out to the side at 90 degrees, or “cactus arms”, trying to touch hands and elbows to the floor is a great way to open up those muscles. Most of my clients love a little extra assistance from me with this one.
Be aware that when you find a tight spot, foam rolling can feel a bit tender. That is okay and is a sign you’ve found a muscle that is overly tight and needs to be stretched. When that knot starts to relax the rolling will feel less intense. All of my clients feel and move so much better after our time on the roller.
Not all foam rollers are created equal. Some are too soft and don’t do much for helping to relax tight muscles. Others are so hard and bumpy they make you wanna slap yo momma (or your trainer). Some are too short to use for the chest stretch. I find this one from Amazon to be just right – AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller | 36-inches, Black, $19.99.
Now, Roll with it!