All our clients dread the Foam Roller!! We do too sometimes but trust us when we say that the more you use it, the more your muscles will get used to it and adapt to the sensation. Foam rollers are an effective method of reducing tension and increasing muscle length. Technically known as ‘self myo-fascial release’ (SMR) foam rollers use a similar principle to sports massage but instead of the pressure being applied by a Therapist, it is your own body weight that does the job.
If a muscle is held in a specific inactive position or continuously overused, collagen can form between the skeletal muscle thus creating adhesions or ‘knots’. Regular use of foam rollers can alleviate musculature tightness helping to restore the muscles to optimum performance and improve the range of motion. Foam rolling is also an effective recovery tool in reducing those aches and pains post exercise. During long strokes on a roller the flow of blood and lymph within the muscle increases bringing with them a healthy supply of oxygen and nutrients. This enriched blood flow triggers a pretty comprehensive list of benefits:
1. Improved joint mobility
2. Increased muscular flexibility
3. Reduction of DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness)
4. Decreased risk of injury
5. Increased injury recovery time
Don’t forget the economic benefits that a foam roller can provide too. They’re compact, convenient and with their reputable durability they’re an excellent investment lasting for years. Foam rolling can never fully replace the accuracy, skill and depth of our Therapists but rest assured, the more time you spend on a roller the less likely you are to pick up an injury! So there’s a reason to purchase if ever there is one.
As the popularity of foam rolling has increased over the years, a greater variety of rollers have been created, each promoting specific types of benefits:
‘Soft’ Foam Roller
A soft roller places less force directly onto the muscle and therefore is more comfortable when first introducing clients to foam rolling. However these rollers overtime may compress and warp shape, resulting in being less effective.
‘Hard’ Textured Rollers
A hard foam roller with a specific textured pattern of grooves or spikes. These rollers will maintain their shape allowing greater pressure to be placed on adhesions or areas of tightness.
Spiky and hard balls allow for great pressure to be placed on specific areas. Companies make specific SMR massage balls however other balls such as golf and lacrosse balls may be used.
How often should I foam roll?
The simple answer is…as much as you can. Try squeezing in a 5 to 10 minute roll out into your daily routine by incorporating it into your downtime, whilst watching TV for example. When exercising, using a foam roller both before and after a workout prepares both your mind and body for the training ahead. Remember though consistency is key, so keep your roller where you can see it.
Is Foam Rolling meant to be painful?
Yes, rolling is a painful experience, especially if its your first time using one but the pain should be no more than you would expect at a clinic with a massage therapist. The pain should not be unbearable and if deep breaths and peaceful thoughts don’t get you through the exercise then stop!
Remember, the more you use a roller the less discomfort you begin to experience. Also bear in mind that some areas of the body will be more tender than others, dependent on your activities, posture and lifestyle.