You've seen them at the gym, and you may even have one in your home. But how often do you actually use a foam roller? For most people, foam rolling, like stretching, is one of those things they plan on doing if they have extra time in their day—meaning they never actually get around to doing it.
But while it's necessary to work hard during your workouts, it's equally as important to make sure your body gets the recovery it needs. And while getting a massage every once in a while is a great way to treat yourself and soothe sore muscles, foam rolling is a much more wallet-friendly and time efficient way to recover on a daily basis.
Here are four convincing reasons why you should be foam rolling every day:
1. It reduces soreness and tightness from working out.
You know that feeling when you wake up the day after a really hard workout and your muscles are so sore it's hard to move? Yeah, we've all been there. But foam rolling right after your workout (or even the next day) can help reduce some of that soreness and tightness.
That's because foam rolling works by massaging away fascia buildup in your muscles, which often lead to painful, sore muscles. Reducing this means you won't have to skip your workout because you're too sore from the previous day's session.
2. It increases flexibility.
We all know how important it is to stay flexible, and foam rolling can help with that too. Maintaining flexibility throughout your life reduces injuries, improves your athletic performance and keeps you strong and healthy into old age. So whether you're into HIIT, yoga, or even stand up paddleboarding, foam rolling can improve your performance and make you a more flexible, healthier athlete in general.
3. It helps prevent injuries.
When you work out hard, your muscles end up tight and develop knots from constant stress. And unless you want to pony up the cash to get a full body massage once or twice a week, your best bet for staying injury-free is to foam roll as often as possible.
When you foam roll out the tight spots, it prevents those areas from becoming injury trigger points which could eventually lead to shin splints, neck immobility, and even a popped rib. (I speak from experience!)
4. It helps you de-stress.
Foam rolling away the knots can help you de-stress at the end of a tough day—just like a massage would. That's because when you release your knots and sore spots, the tension built up in your connective tissue releases and leaves you feeling less stressed.
How to get started foam rolling
You can use a foam roller on any part of the body, but it's especially great for your calf muscles, lats (back muscles), quads, hamstrings and butt. No matter what part of the body you're focusing on, your goal should be to roll back and forth for 30 seconds to a minute for each muscle group. Any time you find a sore spot (you'll know when you do), you should make your best effort to stay there for around 15 seconds in order for the tissue to have time to release.
And be aware: if this is your first time foam rolling, you may find it painful—even excruciating—when you first start out. Keep with it for a few weeks and the pain will ease up.
To keep flexible, stress-free, and avoid injuries, you should aim to foam roll on a daily basis for 5 to 20 minutes. But even a few times a week will make a big difference!