Foam Rolling – To Roll or Not to Roll?

Foam Rolling – To Roll or Not to Roll?

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that is used by athletes and physiotherapists to inhibit overactive muscles. Myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. A foam roller is used to supplement the work of a deep tissue specialist; such as a physiotherapist. Using a foam roller correctly, along with your own body weight, is called self-myofascial release (SMR). Myofascial release aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles.

People of varying levels of activity will benefit from foam rolling. Through our daily routine our underlying muscle or soft tissue and fascia within the body can become tight and stuck together. Causes of this include many things from sedentary lifestyles (sitting, standing, static positions too much) to overworked muscles (through work, stress or exercise) as well as limited stretching or previous injuries. Physiotherapists refer to these tight sticky areas as adhesions, knots or trigger points. These knots cause restricted movement which leads to reduced flexibility and reduced muscle efficiency. If these areas persist untreated they can lead to symptomatic pain or discomfort while also increasing the likelihood for injury.

Using a foam roller to perform self-myofascial release helps to break up and eliminate these knots/trigger points, relaxing the tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissue. This can help improve range of motion, flexibility, movement, increase blood flow and assist with improved muscle function.

Does Foam Rolling Work?
When evaluating the research surrounding Foam Rolling, like everything else there is significant debate for and against. Mostly on the whole the research supports the effectiveness of Foam Rolling and SMR and we all here at Carbery Physiotherapy would support the use of Foam Rollers. Simply put, Foam Rolling will allow our patients to easily and cheaply experience some level of myofascial release be-it between treatment sessions, before/after training or exercises or on rest/recovery days.
Foam Rolling was typically used in preparation for training or exercise, however recent research published in the Journal of Athletic Training looks at the benefits of foam rolling after training or exercise. This study examines the effect of foam rolling on delayed onset muscle soreness (most commonly known as DOMS). DOMS can be defined as the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. For more click here>>>

How do I use my Foam Roller?
1. Roll the entire length of the muscle (8-10 times)
2. Return to any tender areas and maintain pressure
3. Breathe deeply and relax (for between 30-45 seconds)
4. As pain/tenderness disperses (by 50-75%), move onto the next tender area

Where can I Foam Roll?
You can pretty much Foam Roll any muscle group or area of the body. Getting yourself into a comfortable position in order to tackle the muscle group is often half the battle. Some typical areas one might foam roll include the feet, calf muscles, hamstrings, quads, glutes and back. You can get some helpful guidance using youtube or online. Alternatively you can contact us here in Carbery Physiotherapy and we can advise and send on some video tutorials to you by email.

Which type of Foam Roller should I get?
When choosing a Foam Roller you will quickly notice there is a variety of sizes, densities, ones with hollow cores, ones without, ones with lumps and bumps and ones without. Which Foam Roller is right for you really is down to personal preference but some things to consider when purchasing include;
The Cost
The Durability
Your own pain threshold
The solid dense foam rollers are cheapest price but with that they also have the shortest functioning lifespan. With regular use, these Foam Rollers begin to lose their shape and therefore don’t function to the best of their ability. If you suffer from significantly increased muscle tightness, have a lot of knots/trigger points or have a low threshold for pain then these dense foam rollers are probably the ones for you.

The Foam Rollers with a hollow or plastic core are at the higher end of the price bracket. However the plastic hollow core ensures that the Foam Roller maintains its shape thus increasing the lifespan of the product and ensuring the user reaps the benefits of a deeper massage.
Foam Rollers which come with various lumps and bumps are designed to provide you with a further deeper massage and with that will be likely to increase in price.

We would be delighted to answer any further questions you might have about myofascial release, Trigger points or knots, reduced flexibility, muscle soreness or foam rolling. So feel free to give us a call or call in to our clinic here in Ballineen.

In the meantime our advice to you would be to try out the various Foam Rollers, see what works for you and keep on rolling…

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us…Get in Touch

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