By: StacyAtZeel Maybe you've seen this quirky piece of gym equipment before, a foam cylinder that looks a lot like a rolling pin. This, dear reader, is a foam roller. A versatile tool, foam rollers are typically used to release the fascia (the connective tissues that envelop your achy, tired muscles), for self-massage and to deepen your stretches.
There are many ways to easily incorporate a foam roller into your post-workout routine. (If you need a refresher on proper roller techniques, just check out this mini tutorial.) In fact, there are tons of benefits to using this simple apparatus too. With a bit of input from yoga instructor, movement educator and Zeel Expert Melissa Gutierrez, we take a look at five of our favorite reasons to get started. Go ahead, get rolling!
Fix your fascia-quick! Foam rollers are specifically designed to relax the fascia, a layer of soft tissue that surrounds the muscles in your body. Using a foam roller, much like a form of bodywork known as myofascial release, helps release tension that may be trapped in the muscles after a particularly tough sweat-session.
Anyone can use it. From gym newbies to triathletes, almost everyone can benefit from the relief a foam roller provides. By kneading the underlying fascia, foam rollers help to prevent the formation of knots while stretching and lengthening the muscles. Who shouldn't use a foam roller? Individuals with fibromyalgia should consult a doctor first, as certain sensitivities may make it uncomfortable.
Loosen up. While foam rollers provide instant relief in your calves, glutes, shins and upper-back, they can also be used to maintain muscles, boosting long-term total-body health. "We all get tight tissues," Melissa explains, "so foam rolling helps loosen those tight spots, release muscle tension, and keep joints balanced and healthy-all while feeling really good."
Enhance everyday habits. Tension can inhibit you from breathing properly, standing upright or completing other everyday tasks. By eliminating tension in the body, foam rollers can help you to develop better awareness of your breath while also strengthening your stance. Over time, this can help you to develop better and healthier movement patterns.
They're kind of pretty. Beauty is definitely on the outside when it comes to purchasing fitness goods. Get a load of this funky tie dye foam roller-Melissa's main squeeze. OPTP's Pro Foam Roller is 36″ by 6," and is specially crafted to withstand plenty of wear and tear. Plus, its marbleized pastel surface makes it an attractive addition to your living room should you forget to store it afterward.