Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release using a rigid styrofoam cylinder of varying length and degrees of 'hardness'. You can also achieve the foam rolling effect with a rolling pin style device (like I use in the clinic) or a sometimes a hard rubber or rubber spiked therapy ball.
Foam rolling may be useful:
Foam rolling may work by:
How to effectively foam roll.
Warning! Be careful not to overstress your joints if trying to twist and contort yourself into a position to foam roll a particular muscle. I have treated many well-intentioned folks who, while trying to foam roll their gluteal muscles, injured their backs. Video's showing you what to do may be helpful, but remember the demonstrator may not have a history of back pain or hip arthritis. If needed, get specific individualised advice from an experienced physiotherapist about how best to foam roll your body.
Regular, short periods of foam rolling can have significant health benefits and contribute to your regular daily movement requirements. I have written before about the benefits of micro-workouts and foam rolling in another good micro-workout option if done safely and effectively. The key is to start slowly and gently, as well as seeking professional guidance if needed.
By Simon Coghlan MSc, BScPhysio, DipMedAc
Pearcey GE, Bradbury-Squires DJ, Kawamoto JE, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG, Button DC. Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of athletic training. 2015 Jan;50(1):5-13.
Mohr AR, Long BC, Goad CL. Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion. Journal of sport rehabilitation. 2014 Nov 1;23(4):296-9.
Peacock CA, Krein DD, Silver TA, Sanders GJ, Von Carlowitz KP. An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. International journal of exercise science. 2014;7(3):202.
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