I’m going to take your questions one at a time. Let’s dive in!
Foam rolling, or self myo-fascial release, is a method of assisted self-massage for your soft tissue. (Soft tissue includes tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, nerves and fascia.) Surrounding your muscles like a blanket is connective tissue called fascia and it is this fascia that foam rollers actively work on. Sometimes with stress, repeated use, physical activity, and/or daily living your fascia can tighten or distort the fascia. You’ll feel like a part of your body/muscle is tight or in a knot. Applying pressure to the affected area with a foam roller, a lacrosse/therapy ball or a peanut (two lacrosse balls taped together) can help work out any kinks in the fascia.
As to whether you need to be doing it – that’s up to you. I strongly recommend that you foam roll consistently, especially if you’re engaging in skating or any other physical activity on a regular basis. For some, foam rolling every day works wonders. For others, foam rolling after or before a workout only makes all the difference. Choose what works for you, but remember: consistency is key! No significant bodily changes happen overnight so to realize the full benefits of rolling you’ll have to work it into your routine for a few weeks.