What is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a self-massage tool that can be used before exercise to increase mobility and blood flow, but also after exercise to help speed up recovery.
How does it work?
Using a foam roller is a way to perform myofascial release around muscles. “Myofascial” refers to fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles and other body parts and allows for movement. This internal webbing can stiffen with repetitive movements such as running or cycling. When foam rolling deep compression of the muscles occurs, this helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings. The deep compression of self-myofascial release allows normal blood flow to return and the restoration of healthy tissue.
How do I use it?
By slowly rolling over various areas of your body, it can be used to loosen up common areas of tightness such as your outer thigh (Iliotibial Band), Quadriceps, or upper back.
Position yourself on top of the roll and use the weight of your body to slowly roll back and forth over it (as if you’re using a rolling pin to roll out some dough). Try not to support your body weight through your arms, but allows your bodyweight to relax over the foam roller.
– Only stay on one particular area for 30 seconds to one minute
– Don’t roll an injured area unless advised by a medical professional
– If the pain is more than some soreness/ tightness, stop!
Does it hurt?
Foam rolling is one of those “it hurts so good” a love-hate relationship, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. But it’s short term pain for happier muscles and leads to better muscle recovery.
Does it actually work?
Two of the latest research articles suggest that there is some evidence to show it can make a small but statistically significant effect on recovery, range of movement and performance.
A study published earlier this year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise investigating whether or not foam rolling can reduce soreness and boost recovery following exercise.
– The findings showed that it reduced muscle soreness one, two, and three days after a squat routine.
– Foam rolling also resulted in a small increase in quadriceps range of motion.
– Finally, it led to better performance in a vertical leap test.
Another study conducted last year by Graham MacDonald et al, showed that foam rolling had a small but noticeable impact on range of motion.