Massage rollers have a variety of uses and applications. Athletes have used massage or foam rollers for years to promote flexibility and improve recovery time. However, the benefits of foam rolling don’t end there. More people are learning that massage rollers can help to relieve trigger points and tension as well as promote blood circulation throughout the body.
Massage Roller Benefits
Massage rolling provides many benefits when it comes to overall health. These benefits include improving blood circulation and releasing tension through myofascial release. By applying and holding pressure at various points on the body, known as trigger points, myofascial release relaxes tense muscles. These trigger points often feel like hard nodules under the muscle tissue in your body. The use of a foam roller helps to effectively roll out tense muscles while encouraging oxygen flow to improve overall circulation.
Massage rollers provide many of the same benefits as sports massages. While sports massages are a great option, they can get expensive. However, a good massage roller will only set you back anywhere from $30 to $200. Combining advanced heat therapy with foam rolling to penetrate deep into the muscle tissue gives you a more intense massage.
Effects of Poor Blood Circulation
Poor blood circulation is almost inevitable as you get older. Vascular endothelial function declines with age and arteries become stiffer. Stiff arteries lead to arteriosclerosis which is an increased hardness and stiffening of the artery wall and buildup of plaque in the arteries. This is dangerous because it can lead to blood clots, which are often life-threatening.
Thankfully, early prevention using massage rolling and other forms of stretching can greatly improve vascular endothelial function. In the early stages of arterial stiffness, massage rolling can slow, stop, or even reverse the stiffening of arteries. Flexibility exercises like yoga or foam rolling have been shown to improve flexibility and improve vascular endothelial function.
One such study was conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Masuhara Okamoto. In his study, 10 healthy individuals were selected and instructed to perform a few foam roller exercises, mostly focused on the lower body. After just 30 minutes, arterial function was tested, and the exercise group performed higher than the control group who did not perform the exercises. The study showed that positive improvements in blood circulation could be achieved in a very short amount of time.
How Do Massage Rollers Improve Blood Circulation?
Massage rollers are particularly effective at promoting blood circulation because they literally push blood out of your muscles and replace it with new, oxygenated blood carrying glycogen. Oxygen and glycogen are essential for muscle repair, and more oxygen means better circulation. This is why breathing during foam rolling is so important. Focus on taking deep breaths as your roll to get more oxygen into your blood and muscles.
Benefits of Improved Blood Circulation
Alongside improved arterial function, improved blood circulation can aid you in many aspects of life as well. Some of the main benefits include:
- Reduced Injury—Muscle recovery and flexibility aid in coordination and can help prevent injuries.
- Increased Flexibility—Foam rolling improves flexibility, allowing you to engage more muscles during a workout.
- Lowers Muscle Recovery Time—Forcing oxygenated blood and glycogen into the muscles improves recovery. Massaging also reduces lactic acid buildup which leads to sore muscles.
- Chiropractic Aid—Massage rolling your back can extend the time needed between chiropractic appointments.
If you find yourself short on time, focus on doing a short massage rolling session before working out. It will help you get the most out of your workout.
3 Foam Roller Exercises for Improved Blood Circulation
When foam rolling for improved blood circulation, it is most effective to focus on the major muscle groups during your rolling session. These areas include the back, IT band, calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings. If rolled regularly, these main muscle groups can improve blood circulation.
1. Thoracic Spine Roll
For this exercise, you will need a massage roller placed beneath your shoulders. Bend your knees and place your hands behind your head like you’re about to do a sit-up. Roll up and down slowly, avoiding the lower spine. You can also extend your hands straight back over your head, as though you were diving, to give yourself a deeper stretch. Make sure to pause at any tense points and gently rock side to side to work them out.
2. IT Band Roll
Place the massage roller under one hip. Cross your legs so the leg you are not leaning on is out in front of you. This leg will help you control your movement throughout the exercise. Allow your other leg to rest on the foam roller. Gently roll your hip over the roller in a slow, small area. Be careful to avoid going down to the knee or onto the hip bones.
3. Hamstring Roll
For this roll, place the massage roller under the back of your legs. Cross your feet and place your legs out in front of you. Your hands should be on the floor behind you supporting your weight and controlling the movement of this roll. Gently roll up and down on the back of the legs to release tension in the hamstrings.
These are just a few simple exercises that release tension and promote increased blood circulation throughout the body. Try them out the next time you’re at the gym, or right before you go to bed to relax for the evening.
The Dos and Don’ts of Foam Rolling
There is a safe way to do foam rolling and an unsafe way. While massage rolling has many benefits, you can easily do more harm than good if you’re not careful. Following are a few of the biggest dos and don’ts of massage rolling:
- Don’t spend more than 60 seconds on an area—You want to take it slow but if you spend too long on any one area you can bruise yourself or hit a nerve and cause pain.
- Move the roller around your whole body—It won’t improve circulation throughout your entire body if you only roll out your back.
- Breathe deeply—Breathing helps to distribute more oxygen into your muscles and relieves stress and tension. Deep breathing also allows you to get a deeper stretch as you roll.
- Avoid joints and hard areas—You don’t want to hurt your knees or lower back by rolling on joints or your spine instead of your muscles.
- Major muscle groups should get all the focus—This includes quads, hamstrings, IT band, and back.
- Apply heat to improve circulation—Using a heated massage roller can release additional tension and promote blood circulation.
Following these simple tips will ensure you use your massage roller in a safe and effective way.
Massage rollers are great for promoting blood circulation and myofascial release. As you learn more exercises, you’ll notice a difference in your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re looking for advance tension release and improved blood circulation, a heated massage roller is an excellent way to combine the benefits of heat therapy with massage rolling. Begin rolling your way to a healthier body and discover the benefits of massage rolling today!