Ok we are jumping on the bandwagon and releasing a series of healthy fitness type posts for all the New Year Health kicks out there. First up we have what is probably the most important piece of kit you should own or at the very least use in the gym. If you can learn to love this piece of equipment your body will move, recover and prevent injuries better.
We are less mobile than we have ever been, more desk jobs or sitting in front of the TV means our posture needs work, muscles need stimulating and those aches & pains need alleviating. You could go for a regular massage but that would become expensive so a great alternative is to do it yourself and invest in a foam roller.
For around £25 you can help prime your body for joining the gym and most importantly help it stay injury free. But it has other benefits too including:
- Increased blood flow
- Released muscle tightness
- Breaks down knots in muscles
- Reduces pain from training
- Improve range of motion
Foam rollers are used for self myofascial release, which is the fancy science name for self massage. As you roll over it you muscle fibers are broken down and circulation is increased. Additionally when using a foam roller you engage the muscles and strengthen them.
Now we would be lying if we said it wasn't painful, but it's more of an uncomfortable pain and it does get much easier the more often you use your foam roller. You are essentially resting muscles back to their normal function which means undoing knots and tension areas which can often occur over a period of time. But this really is a case of no pain no gain. The deep compression of using the foam rollers help to break up and relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers. Think of it as like tenderising a steak, your muscles want to be soft and supple, not tight and knotted.
A foam roller is basically a plastic pipe with a padded foam covering, some of the newer one's have raised bumps which can get in to the smaller muscles or joints better too.
The reason for suggesting the use of a foam roller before joining a gym is because many people struggle with aches and pains due to poor posture, tight muscles and general wear and tear of daily life. Jumping straight in to a gym routine as most people do will quickly bring out underlying issues and injuries. The warm up and mobility drills are the most important part for new gym members, once you can move freely and have undone any tightness and knots you'll progress at a much faster rate once you move on to weights, circuits and higher intensity work (the 3 main components of a routine for the majority wanting to 'get fit').
So just how do you use a foam roller? Well rather than us spend time making our own video and having to edit the comical moan/groan noises out, here's a link to a host of videos showing you how to foam roll each body part.
As a general rule roll each body part slowly 4-5 times, as you hit a painful spot pause for a couple of seconds, this is likely a knot and the extra pressure will help release it.
Commit to the foam roller for 4 weeks, morning and evening as well as a mobility drills routine and by the time your first wage of the years hits and you can invest in new gym kit and membership you'll accelerate past most of those who joined in January
A good option for a foam roller can be found here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foam-Roller-Trigger-Point-Massage/dp/B017MEOH28/ref=sr_1_1?s=fitness&ie=UTF8&qid=1451770805&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1