Have you seen the rise in the use of foam rollers and wondered what it's all about? What does it do? How do you do it? Does it work? Good questions!
First of all, what is foam rolling doing?
By applying the force of your body weight through the foam roller via your muscles, you're basically giving yourself a deep tissue massage. The aim is therefore to reduce muscle tightness, muscle pain and to improve recovery via stimulating increased blood flow through the muscles, triggering the body's natural painkilling mechanisms and promoting lymphatic drainage.
Does it work?
Foam rolling has been shown to be effective in recovery following physical activity. When used following exercise it has been shown to improve physical performance the following day, as well as reduce post-exercise soreness and improve range of motion.
Foam rolling also works to reduce tight muscles and pain associated with muscle tightness. Often, however, this is only a temporary effect. If you are finding you're getting recurrent muscle tightness/pain/cramping it's worth getting a physio to assess and address what might be causing this.
How do you do it?
Spend a minute or two slowing rolling up and down each muscle group that you want to target.
When you come across a particularly sore/tight spot (trigger point) focus on this spot for 30 seconds.
Apply enough force so that it's painful. The pain should be tolerable not comfortable.
Make sure you keep breathing deep but relaxed breaths. Holding your breath or shallow breathing will encourage muscles to remain tight.
Is it for you?
I recommend foam rolling as a recovery tool particularly for people involved in high level sport and/or who are exercising regularly with few rest days each week. Also if you're particularly stepping up your exercise regime foam rolling will be helpful in promoting better recovery as you increase your training load.
Foam rolling should not be used on an acute muscle tear or if a muscle tear is suspected. In the early phase of healing of a muscle tear management of the inflammation is a greater priority than muscle tightness. Foam rolling is therefore not appropriate in this situation.
Where can I get a foam roller?
We sell small (30cm long) foam rollers from our clinic for for just $25. We can also arrange longer foam rollers to be delivered to our clinic for you if that's what you're after.
Stay tuned on our Facebook and Youtube pages for some videos of foam rolling techniques for you to try.