Mamatoga Fit Tip with Jeannine Trimboli: So…What IS a Foam Roller?

Over the past year, I have gradually implemented a new practice into my own fitness program and the fitness programs of my clients. I have to admit that I avoided this practice for a while. I think I avoided it for the same reason we all avoid new things. It takes time to learn something new. We get set into certain habits and even though we may think about trying that particular new thing, it can take us a while to actually do it. Then when we finally get around to it, we think (or at least I do), “Wow, that wasn’t bad at all. Why did I wait so long?”

I found this with foam rolling. And now that I have made foam rolling a regular part of my fitness routine, and the fitness routines of many of my clients, I can’t imagine a program without it. So I thought it would be very unfair of me if I didn’t also share this great new discovery with all of you!

“What is a foam roller?” It is an 18-inch-long roll of tightly packed foam that is about 5 inches in diameter. You can find them in just about any major department or sporting goods store, usually in the section that carries the yoga and pilates items. They are fairly inexpensive too. They were also on my list of “J-trim’s 6 Must Have Fitness Items for Your Home” which I shared on Mamatoga not too long ago. You can read the entire list here.

“What do you do with a foam roller?” (Wow, you guys are asking me some really great questions today!)

Think of a foam roller as your very own personal, at your beck and call, 24/7, masseuse. You can roll yourself out on your foam roller to help release any tight muscle spasms that develop throughout the day. Even if you don’t exercises, I highly recommend a foam roller for everyone. When you roll out your tight muscles on a foam roller (say, your low back for instance) the compression causes the nerves to relax and also loosen the muscle. Foam rolling also helps to promote better circulation as it gets the blood flowing.

Now, I know I am making this sound all warm and fuzzy but I also have to be very honest. The first time I demonstrated some of the foam rolling exercises to a group of my fitness participants, they got quite a laugh. The faces I was making in response to the unpleasantness I was experiencing while rolling out my tight muscles on my foam roller was more than entertaining.

That is my roundabout way of letting you know, foam rolling can slightly hurt in the beginning. The tighter a muscle is when you roll it out, the more intense the sensation. However, that is a sign that the muscle group that’s sending you these unpleasant signals, really needs some release.

Think of your muscles as a lump of dough. When the dough is cold and lumpy, it isn’t very pliable. But as you take the rolling pin over it, applying pressure, and rolling back and forth, the dough becomes soft and malleable. Your muscles respond in much the same way. So, while it may not feel pleasant initially, your body will feel so much freer and relaxed after you foam roll.

I go through a series of foam rolling exercises before my workouts. I find this helps to increase my range of motion and I have seen great improvements in my movement patterns because of it. Some people prefer to foam roll at the end of their workouts. You can also foam roll at home before bed, while you are watching television, or first thing in the morning. If you work a job where you sit a lot, maybe take one to work with you and use it on your lunch break. I guarantee you will be the constant conversation topic at the office, and everyone will want to play with your foam roller!

Next week on Mamatoga, I am going to show you some foam rolling exercises. I am going to show you how to roll our every major muscle group in your body. In the meantime, if you would like to buy a foam roller so that you are prepared to start, go buy one!

For more from Jeannine, check out her blog Real [Fit] Life right here!