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Don’t have the budget to get a sports massage? Using a foam roller may be an even better way to improve your fitness gains and reduce your risk of injuries. Not only are rollers relatively cheap (most cost between $10 and $60, depending on their features) and readily available at just about every gym, but the effects kick in quickly.
One recent study found that foam rolling the quads, up to five times a week, led to increased range of motion during lunges immediately after rolling. And a 2015 research review in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports found that rolling also decreased post-workout soreness and fatigue.
Regardless of your fitness level, almost everyone can benefit from rolling out regularly—especially desk jockeys.
“Rolling breaks up blockages of your skeletal tissue, helping the muscles and surrounding fascia to become more malleable and pliable,” says Steve Barrett, a personal trainer and author of Total Foam Rolling Techniques. “Plus, it improves your posture, the way you feel, and the way you move.”
Additionally, rolling is crucial to keeping your strength training on track. A lack of mobility will decrease your range of motion, “and if you can’t use full range of motion, you can’t use the muscles you’ve developed,” Barrett adds.
For that reason, the more you train, the more you should roll. According to Barrett, “If you do a huge amount of activity, you have the potential to create a huge amount of congestion.” Not to mention that the effects are fleeting, so you have to roll regularly if you want to continue to see benefits. Ideally, plan to roll pre- and post-workout for improved mobility and optimal recovery.