What is a foam roller and how is it used?

What is a foam roller and how is it used?

Once only practiced by professional athletes, coaches and trainers, foam rolling is becoming more common among everyday people. The technique, also called self-myofascial release, is used to improve muscle function and flexibility after intense physical exercise.

The muscles in your body are covered with a thin layer of fibrous tissue called fascia. When the fascia is torn or doesn’t heal properly, painful adhesions can form and prevent the muscles from moving as they should. Self-myofascial release works out those adhesions, releasing knots and tightness and increasing blood flow to the muscles. The result is improved flexibility, reduced muscle soreness and enhanced performance.

Foam rollers are an inexpensive, commonly used piece of equipment for self-myofascial release, and they can be found in virtually any sporting goods store. Some trainers and athletes prefer to use PVC pipe cut to the same dimensions as a foam roller for more pressure and support. A rubber ball, like a lacrosse ball, can also be used to focus on trigger points and apply specific pressure to the muscles.

How to use a foam roller
Self-myofascial release can be used on any muscle group, including feet, calves, quads, thighs, hips, arms, upper back, neck and shoulders. Start by placing the foam roller on the muscle group you want to target. Use slow and controlled movements to roll back and forth across the muscles 10 to 15 times before moving on to the next muscle group. If you find an area that is tight or painful, pause and relax with the roller on that spot for 10 to 30 seconds, or until you feel the muscle release and the pain lessen.

Because foam rolling is a form of deep tissue massage, it is normal to experience some discomfort or pain, though it should not be unbearable. When you finish, you should feel the muscles release and the pain should feel better.

Use a foam roller before your workout to improve circulation, release existing tightness and prepare your body for exercise. After your workout, spend some time with the foam roller to maintain good circulation, aid recovery, improve flexibility and alleviate muscle tightness that may have developed during your workout. Self-myofascial release can be used daily before and after a workout, or to help with recovery on your rest day.

If you are unfamiliar with foam rolling, schedule an appointment with a certified professional trainer to learn how to safely use a foam roller on various muscle groups. A trainer can demonstrate proper form to help relieve muscle tension and soreness.

Foam rolling can help relieve some pain associated with exercise. If you experience persistent pain or discomfort during or after a workout, contact Goshen Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine to diagnose and treat the source of your pain.


Posted: 6/15/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: exercise, fitness, fitness and exercise

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