Is Foam Rolling Worth the Hype?
I’m sure you’ve heard of foam rolling, but what does it really do? And is it as good as the magazines say it is?
Well, the truth is that one of the biggest benefits of foam rolling is that you don’t need to be an anatomy or physiology expert to do it.
When it comes to the application of the technique and you’ll be hard pressed going wrong, as long as you don’t overdo it on an area which is particularly inflamed. If it causes slight uncomfortably – green light, legitimate pain – red light. As a rule of thumb, don’t roll over 30 seconds on one area.
One of the best advantages of foam rolling is its ability to break up or ‘loosen’ adhesions. Adhesions occur when muscle fibres “stick” to muscle fascia—a sheath of connective tissue that surrounds the muscles—resulting in a knot of tissue that limits the circulation of blood, nutrients, and the elimination of waste, and can lead to pain and injury.
When you use a roller to roll along the length of your muscle, you’re helping loosen and release these “sticky points,” enabling your muscles to return to their original and intended length.
This leads to a variety of advantageous effects;
- Increased blood flow leads to less pain, and optimum muscle function and recovery, similar to the stimulation of massage. For example, if you suffer pain through the front of your knees (a common sign of Patella Tendinosis), you may benefit from rolling your Quadriceps and hip flexors.
- If your range of motion is altered due to painful knots or a shortening of the muscle fibers from persistent contraction, you may end up with muscle imbalances or injuries. Rolling out these aforementioned adhesions and keeping your muscles long and pliable reduces the likelihood of injury.
- Foam rolling is a very economical way to perform what is known as a Myofascial release. Myofascial release is a manipulative treatment that attempts to release tension in the fascia due to trauma, posture, or inflammation. This treatment is often performed by massage therapists, chiropractors or Osteopaths, which can be quite pricey. Foam rolling is a good option to try before seeking professional help if cost is a limiting factor between you achieving optimal muscular health.
Hope this clears up any grey areas you might have in relation to foam rolling and its benefits.
Stay healthy and mobile,