If you’ve ever seen people rolling around on the floor of the gym and wondered what they could possibly be doing, the answer is probably foam rolling. It might look silly, but in fact, it is an essential part of any workout routine. What Is A Foam Roller? A foam roller is a piece of exercise equipment that can be used in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it is a large, cylindrical piece of firm, foam-like material. However, certain foam rollers are softer than others, and some even have special textured surfaces. While many gyms stock foam rollers, it’s best to invest in your own if you’re an avid exerciser. Not only will you have access to it at any time, but it will also be a lot more sanitary. You can use a foam roller to work out your abs or bolster yoga poses, but the most common use is for massaging sore muscles. Importance Of Foam Rolling You know that feeling when you wake up the morning after a tough workout? If you did heavy squatting the day before, you might find it difficult to even walk! This lovely side effect of exercising is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. While nothing can truly prevent DOMS (though working out regularly and taking proper rest days does reduce it), foam rolling can alleviate the symptoms and help you to feel better faster by loosening up tight muscle tissue. It’s essentially a very economical massage! How To Foam Roll? There are a couple of different ways you can foam roll. The first is to physically move your body over the foam roller. Place the foam roller on the floor, and lay on top of it. Then slowly roll your body over the device, taking care to linger where extra attention is needed. You can be laying face up, face down, or on your side. Another way to foam roll is with a smaller, hand-held foam roller. Gripping the roller on either side, foam roll over the targeted muscle group. This method works especially well for the quads and calves. No Pain, No Gain One warning about foam rolling: it’s going to a hurt a little bit! At first, your soreness will be amplified as you work to loosen up your tight muscles. But don’t let that stop you from foam rolling. Ultimately, foam rolling helps you to feel better faster. If you don’t foam roll, you might experience DOMS for several days, which could prevent you from getting back to your workout routine. It’s especially important when you first start exercising to make it into a habit. If you still can’t walk after three days, you’re probably not going to be too inclined to get back to the gym. Like stretching, foam rolling is an often neglected but very important aspect of working out. The next time you lift heavy, be sure to take care of your muscles and foam roll!