foam Rolling-friend or foe?
We have all heard a thousand times that self massage is an essential tool for performance maintenance and injury prevention. However sometimes foam rolling techniques can be misguiding and confusing. Some times stories of ‘deadly foam rollers’ circulate between training groups and generate a predominantly negative stigma around what is a fantastic tool, and something which in my opinion; everybody should have in their arsenal of techniques to maintain fitness.
In this post we will talk about why foam rollers are so great! and hopefully clear up any ‘Old Wives Tales’ about how much damage and pain they will subject you too!
Firstly lets get one thing straight. Foam Rollers are Brilliant! They can give huge amounts of relief, in a range of different ways, managed and controlled entirely by the user, self administered, self controlled and is readily available. It is portable, it can be used in rehab exercises, warm ups and cool downs, recovery, self treatment and maintenance. All at a low cost. What’s not to Like!
What is Foam Rolling?
In short; Foam rolling is a form of self-massage. It is where individuals use their body weight to roll over and round a cylindrical roller to relieve restrictions in muscular tissues.Given the term ‘Self myofascial release’, the author Mike Clark advised athletes to use their body weight to apply pressure to sore and tight spots of muscle, replicating a self-acupressure technique. This technique soon grew and now provides us with ways of relieving and managing tight muscle and tendons, myofascial restrictions, joint and tissue mobilization and also trigger points within muscle. It is a fantastic way of self managing your body for EVERYBODY, not just athletes. Below is a link to a video that demonstrates foam rolling in areas where restrictions are regularly found:-
Benefits of Foam Rolling
A paper by MA Clarke summarized the benefits of foam rolling nicely:
• Corrects muscle imbalances • Improves joint range of motion • Relieves muscle soreness and joint stress • Decreases neuromuscular hypertonicity • Increases extensibility of musculotendinous junction • Improves neuromuscular efficiency • Maintains normal functional muscular length
Foam Vs Hands on – Which is better?
A foam roller cannot replace your therapist!
Regardless of its benefits, you will get all of these and more by seeing your therapist regularly. Foam rolling is a brilliant way that you can keep check on your body’s functionality and relieve tightness/ restrictions. It will allow you to become more aware of your body and by working on areas specified by your therapist you can maximise and retain the release you get from your one on one sessions.
The Bad news; Foam rolling is no walk in the park. Nearly all first time users will be rather bitter after hearing all these brilliant things about foam rollers, to find that as soon as they start the whole experience is quite painful. The phrase ‘No pain no gain’ is very relevant here!
Similar to sports massage, or the first few fitness sessions you do after a long break, your first sessions on a foam roller will be quite uncomfortable. In the same way that you adapt and can cope with deeper pressure during sports rubs, or recovery quicker after speed interval running, you will also progress and adapt to foam rolling. The more you roll through the restricted tissue, the more you feel the benefits of regular use and more importantly, the easier it will get!
Remember to always follow the advise of your therapist; if your advised to work through the restrictions and pain, then grit your teeth and do the work.
- If you are training, or even stuck at your desk for more hours than you would like and want some immediate relief, then get hold of us here at the clinic. We can take you through a full assessment and go through a full foam roller release program that you can use to help manage those niggeling aches and pains.
- Buy a foam roller – keep it at at the office, under the bed, in the car. It’s a great tool that your missing out on if your not doing it already. We stock foam rollers in the clinic, so if you are interested, please email us
- Use it before and after training, or on a recovery day to help keep things ticking over.
- Be brave – if it hurts, don’t worry. Maybe wrap it in a towel to add an extra layer of padding while you break yourself into it. Perseverance will pay off!