Foam rolling has become more popular and it made me think if self-massage is good for you.
Would you let an inexperienced physiotherapist or masseuse loose on your body or would you seek out someone with the relevant qualifications and experience?
I’ve foam rolled on and off for a few years and tend to do it most when my legs are really sore.
What is Foam rolling?
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) using a plastic cylinder wrapped in foam.
Myo denotes muscle.
Fascial is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.
Why do you need to do it?
Exercising and physical activity can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMs is muscle soreness that comes from micro tears to muscles and connective tissues and lasts about 2 days.
Foam rolling is said to aid recovery of muscles, increases blood flow and improve mobility/range of movement that stretching alone cannot do.
What’s the technique?
The aim is to provide a sustained, gentle, pressure. This allows the fascia to elongate naturally and return to its normal resting length restoring health.
It should be done slowly with short rolls over the sore areas (trigger points).
If it is too painful, roll around the painful bits. It’s not a pain tolerance test.
It can be done pre or post workout.
What shouldn’t you do?
There is not a huge amount of scientific research (there is some) on the benefits of foam rolling, however –
You shouldn’t roll your iliotibial band (IT band) (band from hip to knee). That plagues a lot of runners. The IT band is not pliable and cannot be manipulated. If your IT band is a problem, work on the muscles attached to the band such as the gluteus maximus (buttocks).
Do not roll your lower back. Your back is very precious. Most back pain is mechanical, to do with your spine. Rolling will not work, your back muscles will contract to protect the spine and you will only likely do further damage.
Prices vary considerably. From £8 on eBay to £15 at Argos to over £80 on Amazon. There is not really a lot of technology involved. A good piece of plastic pipe would do the same job.
It can be done quickly and at home. Is cheaper that a massage (but not the same) and if you suffer from particularly achy muscles, foam rolling could be of help.
DISCLAIMER – This post provides general information about exercise, fitness and nutrition and should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice and supervision. Please consult a doctor or qualified fitness instructor before starting any exercise or diet regime.