What Can You Do With a Foam Roller

What Can You Do With a Foam Roller

Foam rollers for exercise therapy

Foam rollers are an inexpensive, super-versatile piece of equipment that can help you with everything from working out the knots in your muscles to sculpting an incredible set of abs faster. In other words, if you aren’t already using one, you’re missing out on some serious benefits!
Foam rollers have been steadily gaining in popularity over the past few years as part of our culture’s love of all things new and all things exercise, but do they work? Maybe.
How? We’re not really sure.
Will they work for you? Maybe.
How and why should you use them?
Don’t worry if you have no answers to these questions- here are all the things you need to know about foam rollers.

Using Foam Rollers

  • Look for a small and firm foam roller. The smaller and firmer the roll, the more pressure you can generate at the tight spots to ‘work them out’.
  • Use the foam roller after exercise. Some researchers have looked at using foam rollers before exercise to improve performance and found that they were no more effective than a warm up program.
  • Use small ‘kneading’ movements along the length of the muscle. The idea is to use the foam roller as a form of self massage. If you find a tight spot, by all means work on it, but don’t forget the rest of the muscle!
  • If your physiotherapist has instructed you to try foam rolling as part of your treatment, ask a lot of questions and demonstrate the exercise/stretch for him/her. Ensure you are using the foam roller correctly to avoid further injury.
  • Foam rolling is sometimes uncomfortable, especially if you’ve found a tight muscle. It’s important to know the difference between a “good” hurt (such as one felt with a deep tissue massage or foam rolling) and a “bad” pain that could indicate injury.
  • As a rule, any discomfort you have with foam rolling should go away as soon as you stop the technique, and you should be left feeling more flexible and less sore than when you began. You may also notice that the muscle soreness you experience after a hard workout goes away more quickly if you use your foam roller, leaving you with less pain overall.

Why use them at all?
Foam rollers, when used correctly, can release tension and tightness between the muscles and the fascia (which surrounds the muscle or group of muscles). This tension or tightness is usually caused by repetitive moving patterns – so obviously running, but also resistance training or other repetitive sports/actions. Foam rolling as well as dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility and range of movement, and decrease the risk of injury.

The point with foam rolling is to use your body weight – so if an area really hurts, go gentle on it and support some of your weight elsewhere, using your arms. You can add more “weight” as the muscle relaxes.

Common mistakes to avoid, when using Foam Rollers include

  1. Rolling directly where you feel the pain.
  2. Rolling too fast.
  3. Focusing too much on rolling on the knots.
  4. Exercising with a bad posture
  5. Using a Foam Roller on your lower back

For further inquiries, feel free to contact your local physiotherapist.