Here's How You're Really Supposed To Use A Foam Roller

If you work out regularly, you have probably heard of or own a foam roller. These devices have several uses, but you might wonder if you are getting the most out of your foam roller. These affordable fitness helpers can provide significant benefits when used correctly. Michael Bento, a personal trainer at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, pointed out that adding a foam roller to your workouts can reap enormous benefits. "Foam rolling seems to make muscles more receptive to stretching and moving," Bento told Harvard Health Publishing. "It's the best thing I've found to make people feel better immediately. 

To get all the advantages of foam rolling, you have to know why and how to use them. This self-myofascial release (SMR) technique can increase your range of motion while also relieving muscle soreness, tightness, and inflammation, for instance (via Healthline). These small devices can pack quite a punch. To get the biggest benefit, it's best to foam roll for up to 20 minutes after you exercise when your muscles are warm, and then follow up with another session between one to two days later (via JAT). While it seems like an added commitment, the payoff might be worth it if you tend to have soreness and range of motion limitations. 

Another benefit to foam rolling that you might not be aware of is that it can reduce the appearance of cellulite, at least temporarily, because the actions help break up the fascia that stretches across your fat, creating dimples (via Healthline).

Creative ways to get the most from your foam roller

To loosen up areas of tightness, simply place the foam roller under the site and began slowly rolling back and forth over the spot, using your body weight to provide pressure (via Self). You can adjust the tension by using your arms to support some of your body weight (via Healthline). If you are a beginner, you can work your way up to a minute in each area by starting slowly with 10-second increments. 

Healthline noted that foam rolling could relieve aches and pains from daily living even if you do not work out, so it's worth considering adding a short or long cylinder to your life even if you don't do lots of pain-inducing exercises. Self also revealed some additional, creative uses for the fitness devices. You can safely pop your back, use it to extend your stretches, and as a prop for your yoga practice. You can even use a foam roller on your upper back and neck as acupressure to relieve stubborn knots. 

If you have never taken the time to build up to foam rolling, but you tried it once, you might remember it as painful. However, the benefits of foam rolling make it worth trying one more time.