In a sport where so many training tools and pieces of equipment are “must-haves,” you might be wondering why a tool that isn’t even used in the water is essential if you want to improve your stroke.
However, foam rollers are now almost as common on a pool deck as goggles or kickboards.
For swimmers who lift and train hard to improve their technique and build strength, foam rollers are key for the recovery process. Here’s why.
The layer of fibrous connective tissue surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves, and blood vessels is called fascia. Fascia functions like elastic, helping the body keep shape and move with the organs. Muscle overuse, a tough training session, or inadequate stretching can sometimes cause the fascia layer to stick to the muscle in a process called adhesion. Adhesion can lead to restricted movement, pain, soreness, and a reduced exchange of nutrients and waste due to poor circulation of blood.
This is why many swimmers experience tension or knots after training or racing, and can be relieved by using a foam roller.
The rolling motion lengthens and releases the fascia layer from the muscles, breaking down the scar tissue that adheres to the muscle. As the fascia releases, circulation to and from the muscles begins to improve. The body is also able to process lactic acid quicker, which helps to diminish pain and soreness, reducing post-exercise fatigue and increasing the range of motion around the joints.
We’ve outlined ten quick reasons why foam rollers can aid in the recovery process and help you to become a better swimmer:
- You can roll any muscle group in your body to relieve knots and tension.
- Foam rollers can improve blood flow to speed up the recovery process.
- Particularly tight or painful spots can be relieved with extra pressure.
- More pressure can be achieved by reducing the number of points touching the floor while instead using your body weight to push the roller.
- A full body roll-out can be performed in just 15 minutes.
- Using a roller before and after training sessions can help reduce the likelihood of tight muscles or knots forming.
- Since rollers can warm up muscles just as well as they can help them to recover, many swimmers use them before and after races.
- To reverse hunched shoulders, lie across a foam roller on your upper back with hands supporting your head, or lie vertically on it along your spine.
- Foam rollers can be used to roll out your IT band, inner thighs, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
- Foam rollers can help swimmers save money they may otherwise spend on a professional sports massage.
- Due to its small size, it’s easy to throw in your swim bag and have with you, even when traveling to swim events. This allows you to be able to use it in between your race events.
- It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but the more you use it, the less painful it becomes and the more flexible you get.