Muscle soreness and fatigue are inevitable for athletes, that’s why, as athletes, we need effective ways to promote muscle recovery. Two training aids that do just this are the foam roller and the massage gun, let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two.
The foam roller is a piece of equipment that athletes love to hate but keep coming back for more. Why? Because it works.
It releases the fascia (the thin connective tissue that connects muscles), enabling it to better glide over your muscles. Fascia can get knotted and feel stiff for a variety of reasons, including injury, inflammation, inactivity, and overuse, to name a few. Rolling over problem areas can help release tension in your fascia and re-establish optimal performance of your muscle tissue.
Highly repetitive movements such as running, swimming, or biking can cause overuse of some muscles, which can then get tight. Foam rolling improves symmetrical muscle function by smoothing imbalances.
Foam rolling post-workout also promotes recovery; you can focus on the major muscles you used in your workout and focus on areas that feel problematic. Stimulating blood flow in these areas increases oxygen delivery to your sore muscle fibres and reduces recovery time. Boosting the blood flow to your muscles in turn, sends more nutrients and oxygen into the muscles.
Each muscle group needs at least 90 seconds of rolling. The technique can be hard to master, and it can be a painful process, but worth it.
Just like the foam roller, the massage gun helps relieve muscle tightness, soreness, and inflammation, as well as increases your joint range of motion. However, massage guns are the less painful option, the question is, which is more effective?
The massage gun is easier than the foam roller to use, as rather than having to roll up and down the foam roller, you aim the massage gun at the targeted muscle and let it massage the area. The gun rotates at different speeds pulsating against your muscles; this, like the foam roller, boosts the blood flow, which sends more nutrients and oxygen to your muscles, supporting the recovery process.
It is easier to target specific knots in your muscles with the massage gun, hence creating more of a deep-tissue massage.
There are pros and cons to both. The foam roller is cheaper than the massage gun but can be painful to use. Both aid recovery, which is something we can all benefit from.
Ideally, combine both, using the foam roller on a regular basis to support muscle recovery and mobility and the massage gun to target specific muscle knots, providing you more of a deep tissue massage for those extra tight muscles.
However, either one is better than none - as both support the muscle recovery needed.
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