Hey Recovery Revolutionaries!

If there is one thing the fitness world loves, it’s the COOLEST NEW gadgets! 

However, there is one tool that has stood the test of time and is a true game-changer for your fitness and recovery: the foam roller!

From elite athletes to weekend warriors, foam rolling has become a staple in training regimens worldwide – and for good reasons. But you know me, I want to know why? What really are the benefits of foam rolling? What is the magic behind this simple yet powerful tool?

Let’s roll on and find out!

What Is Foam Rolling?

Foam rollers are a way for us to perform self-myofascial release or SMR.

What the heck is THAT?

The soft tissue in our body consists of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and a very thick and large web of connective tissue called fascia. Your fascia can sometimes get irritated and adhere together, either from direct trauma, repetitive stress, or even postural imbalance.

Once an area gets “stuck” from these adhesions, your body’s range of motion will be negatively impacted. This decrease in joint mobility mixed with the stress and stiffness in the fascia increases your risk of injuries.

How Does Foam Rolling Work?

Increase Blood Circulation + Decreased Muscle Tension = Better Mobility

You know that after a grueling CrossFit WOD your muscles will be tight and sore. Whipping out your trusty foam roller and applying gentle pressure to targeted areas helps release adhesions and trigger points, allowing your muscles to relax and function more efficiently.

Additionally, the pressure and movement help stimulate blood flow to the area. This increased circulation not only nourishes the muscle with essential nutrients but also aids in flushing out metabolic waste products, such as lactic acid, which can contribute to muscle soreness.

Lastly, foam rolling encourages the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms. It prompts the release of endorphins which contribute to reduced pain perception and an overall sense of relaxation. This combination of factors makes foam rolling a potent tool for enhancing recovery, reducing muscle soreness, and promoting better mobility.

When Should You Foam Roll?

Before a WOD: Notice how the word “mobility” has popped a lot so far? Well, it is a necessary skill required to conquer all CrossFit movements. Tight muscles can be like invisible chains, restraining your potential for high-intensity performance. Breaking down those barriers and liberating your body’s ability to move…i.e. mobility…is why you should foam roll as part of your warm up for any type of workout.

After a WOD: Remember that part above with the formula adding increased blood circulation with decreased muscle tension to get better mobility? Yep, all that is like a reset button for your muscles, flushing out waste products that contribute to post-workout soreness. With each roll, you’re actively aiding your muscles rejuvenation and recovery.

In Need of Some Mental Clarity: Foam rolling doesn’t have to be just about the muscles – it can be an invitation to mindfulness and mental clarity, a holistic approach to enhancing your CrossFit journey. Foam rolling offers moments of respite where you can tune into your body’s sensations, creating an intimate dialogue between your physical and mental states. It may also become sort of a moving meditation, a chance to breathe and release both physical tension and mental stress. As you roll, you’re inviting mental clarity to emerge, allowing you to shed distractions and find a tranquil headspace.

As Part of Your Sleep Routine: Check out the blog post from our Sleep Queen where she goes into detail on how establishing a sleep routine will benefit that all important aspect of health and recovery. One of her pro tips is to add some foam rolling pre-bedtime for a double dose of the good recovery stuff.

Which Foam Roller is Right for You?

When it comes to foam rollers, not all are created equal and not all are right for what YOU need. Foam rollers come in many types and varieties, so when searching for the right foam roller, consider these general categories:

Density: Ranging from soft to firm foam, rollers come in varying levels of density. Some folks even use PVC pipes or barbells for their “foam” rolling needs! Softer rollers provide a gentler massage, while firmer rollers offer deeper tissue penetration for more intense relief.

Length: Typically ranging from 12 to 36 inches, foam rollers come in various lengths. Longer rollers are ideal for targeting larger muscle groups like the back and legs, while shorter rollers are more portable and convenient for travel.

Texture: Some foam rollers feature smooth surfaces, while others have ridges, bumps, or grids for added pressure and relief. Smooth rollers provide a more generalized massage, while textured rollers offer targeted relief to specific areas of tension.

Making The Right Choice: When selecting a foam roller, consider your individual needs and preferences. If you’re new to foam rolling or have sensitive areas, start with a softer roller and gradually work your way up to firmer densities. Experiment with different lengths and textures to find the perfect fit for your body and recovery routine.

As you lay the foundation for your foam rolling practice, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither should your pressure approach. When rolling, keep a nice slow, controlled pace. Using your body’s weight, you can make this as easy or as challenging as you’d like. Plan to spend anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each muscle group you roll out, depending on how tight and restricted the tissue is in that area. The more often you use the roller, the easier it will get. Consistency is key!

Foam rolling is a simple yet highly effective tool for enhancing recovery, improving performance, and promoting overall muscle health. Whether you’re an athlete striving for peak performance or simply seeking relief from everyday aches and pains, incorporating foam rolling into your routine unlocks a world of benefits for your body, mind, and your soul.

Ready to let the magic happen? Let’s roll!


Coach Matt