When used properly, foam rollers can elevate your fitness game by alleviating body pain, and for that reason we’re #1 fans. They are simple props that I consider essential to an active lifestyle but often forgotten or dismissed as a stretching prop solely for folks recovering from injury. Today we break down why they are something we should all own and how incorporating foam roller sessions into your normal routine does wonders for your body’s health.

I was first introduced to foam rollers in my adolescence at the physical therapy office where I spent many hours rehabilitating my knee after surgery. In the years since then I’ve continued to use the foam roller on my outer legs and back, and now in my role as a fitness trainer always encourage clients to cool down from a workout with a couple minutes on the roller. Here’s the low down on why we’re obsessed:

  • What is a foam roller good for? Studies indicate that rolling reduces inflammation, improves circulation, and breaks up muscle knots that cause tightness and limit flexibility. It’s also nice because you are the one controlling the amount of pressure being exerted onto your limbs, so you can be fully involved with your bodywork and responses in a way that no one else could. This all means that foam rolling is a good bet for anyone who experiences a tender or tight body due to intense workouts, long work hours, stress, injury, or some combination of all those plus more.
  • How much does it cost? Our favorite comes in under $20 on Amazon. There are a lot of different brands and types of foam rollers on the market these days but we’re happy with the basic 36″ High-Density Round Foam Roller pictured here.  Although it’s longer than other options, I prefer the 36″ option because I use the roller a lot on my back and like the smoothness.
  • How do you use a Foam Rollers? Moving very slowly, and avoiding your joints, balance your bodyweight onto the roller and adjust the level of pressure exerting onto your target muscle group by resting more or less weight into your hands. Once you hit a really spicy spot on your body, try to hold yourself there for up to 45 seconds. So long as you avoid your neck, lower back and joints, you can pretty much roller any muscular body area. You can seesaw back and forth over hot spots, or just stay still on the spot once you’ve found it. I generally foam roll after my workout, but know people who swear by rolling out before runs for the circulation and flexibility benefits.
  • How much do you have to use it to get results? My body feels best when I can work in 3 genuine foam rolling sessions per week. In total that probably amounts to 20 minutes, which is a small price to pay for the way it helps my IT band (outer knee / thigh) release. If you want to get hardcore about it, search your area for the “Foam Roller” classes that are gaining a lot of popularity.
  • What’s the FIT tip? Keep your foam roller near your television so you can make the most of your TV time. Aim to spend 1 or 2 commercials (30-60 seconds) on each body part that needs some TLC. 

Happy Rolling!

(Images by Andrea Posadas for HonestlyFIT)