Many people underestimate the value of using a simple foam massage roller. It seems like a deceptively simple and uninteresting item. In reality, though, it is a vital piece of equipment that, though uncomfortable and inconvenient to use, produces amazing results.
Using a foam massage roller brings about a number of vital benefits. Think of it as - quite literally - giving yourself a deep tissue massage without having to pay a masseuse or physiotherapist. Spending ten minutes with the foam roller will yield results similar to a quick body massage, and doing it every day amounts to seventy minutes of massage therapy for your muscles per week.
When you just start working out, or if you constantly push yourself to do better, your muscles tend to take a beating every time you do your workout. Spending some time using the foam roller will have a substantial on your sore muscles (or in this case, not-so-sore muscles) the next morning when you wake up.
This, in turn, makes it easier to get yourself into the next workout without having to work through the pain first - not to mention the discomfort you would normally experience from the time you get up.
Ideally, you should do foam rolling both before and after your workout. Using the foam roller beforehand will stimulate blood flow to the muscles you target, which in turn will increase oxygen delivery to the muscles you target. It can also serve as a warm-up to your tight muscles, which in turn will allow for more flexibility in your movements.
Doing foam rolling after your workout will help your muscles to recover from the strain you put them through, which - especially if you do your workout at the start of your day - will reduce the probability of muscle stiffness while you go about your day later on.
Keep in mind that your pre-workout foam rolling needs to be gentle, especially if you use it instead of actual warm-up exercises.
Lastly, when it comes to using the massage roller, remember there is no "one size fits all" way to do it. The amount of pressure needed to loosen tight muscles will differ from one person to the next, depending on various factors. Unless you have access to someone with knowledge who can guide you through it, you will have to experiment to find what foam roller users refer to as "the sweet spot" (just the right combination of pressure and duration).
Overdoing it can do harm to your muscles, both pre-and post-workout. Keep in mind that, before your workout, your muscles are "cold" (unless you did warm-up exercises beforehand), and afterward your muscles are tender - so they can only endure so much of a deep tissue massage.
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