Self-myofascial release, or better known as ‘foam rolling’, which was once just used and heard of by professional athletes, coaches and therapists, is now a popular exercise regime for a range of people from the sedentary person to the more athletic individual.
What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a round cylinder of various lengths, densities and textures. At London City Physiotherapy, we commonly use a roller which is 15x90cm, and of a high density as this gives a wider range of exercises you can perform. If you require a recommendation, please contact us.
What are the benefits of using a foam roller?
When used correctly, foam rollers can decrease soreness, reduce recovery time between exercises and increase your range of motion and flexibility. Muscle tension, which can be caused by repetitive movement or resistance training can be decreased. This can be used alongside other modalities, such as dynamic stretching which can help to dramatically decrease your risk of injury.
An expert opinion . . .
We asked one of our Physiotherapists Ben Lee and massage therapist Kal Karrara for their expert opinions.
Kal Karrara – Massage & Sports Therapist
“Most therapists recommend foam rolling for a good reason. A study in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that rolling out for just a minute can improve your range of motion, while a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise discovered that rolling after an intense workout can relieve soreness over the next two days.
Let’s say that is you sat contorted into a tiny airline seat for six hours, and you feel stiff, your body may have gone on the defensive, sending excessive tone to specific muscle groups and increasing tension. Foam rolling—or stretching, or massage—sends an OK signal, stimulating your nervous system in such a way that your brain frees up your muscle’s tone, loosening “the guitar string”. That’s why you can get more range of motion from just a few minutes of foam rolling.
As a sports therapist I have witnessed great results from people of all fitness levels when using a foam roller. Foam rolling isn’t the easiest form of therapy, but the results are worth the effort. In my view, foam rolling techniques accompany physiotherapy/sports massage/personal training really well, and more people should take advantage of what it has to offer.”
Ben Lee – Chartered Physiotherapist
“The foam roller is an excellent way to release muscle tightness and also for stability training. It supplements hands-on treatment of deep tissue massage, dry needling (acupuncture) and stretches. The most effective areas to roll are the quadriceps, iliotibial band, glutes and mid-back. These are the areas that you can exert the most body weight when using the roller.
For stability training, you can lie on the vertical roller and practice core stability exercises. As one would expect, the area of the muscle that needs to be concentrated on, would be the area in which you experience the most discomfort. In time, the discomfort will reduce and the muscle will be released. Generally, we advise people to perform stretching exercises after using the foam roller.”