Ever wondered why there are people lying on your gym floor rolling around on a cylinder piece of foam? Is it a silly craze? Does it actually do anything?
WHAT ARE FOAM ROLLERS?
Foam rollers are a recovery tool that aids in self-myofascial release (a fancy term for self massage), assisting in release of trigger points and decreasing muscle tightness. The cylinder shape of the foam roller allows you to roll over specific muscles and apply pressure to sore spots or trigger points (commonly referred to as “knots”) in order to aid muscle recovery and return the muscle to normal function.
WHY CAN’T I JUST STRETCH?
Generally if a muscle seems tight and knotty, you would stretch it. However, stretching alone is not always enough. This is because stretching will rarely target the trigger points. Imagine a bungee cord with a knot tied in the middle. When the cord is stretched either side of the knot will elongate, but the knot in the middle will remain unchanged or perhaps get even tighter! This is where a foam roller can help. Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these knots and relaxing the tight muscles, resulting in increased blood flow and improved function to the muscle.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?
When foam rolling over tight/sore muscles, you will experience some discomfort or slight pain. Think of it like the pain you get with a deep tissue massage. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and should always feel better once you have finished.
HOW DO I USE A FOAM ROLLER?
Although simple to use, it is always recommended to seek professional advice from your physiotherapist before attempting to use a foam roller. They will be able to assess where it can benefit you the most and show you safe and simple instructions on how to use it.