A foam roller is a tool that a Physiotherapist will often recommend for a ‘home treatment’ option. You might have seen them around the clinic or in the gym – a thick blue tube of foam. Foam rollers, spikey balls and other self-massage tools all fall under the same category, and are used for self myofascial release (or MFR). What is MFR? Myo is the Latin term referring to muscle tissue and fascia is a type of connective tissue found in our bodies between muscle layers. Myofascial release therefore refers to using pressure and massage techniques to release tension in the muscle and fascial tissues in our body!
Many people use foam rollers for self-MFR in an attempt to keep their bodies moving happily and pain-free, but what does the evidence say?
Studies show that using a foam roller may have several benefits:
- May result in short-term increases in joint range of motion, due to muscle relaxation
- May help to decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise
- May result in an increased tolerance to pain in the local area, either on the same side or opposite side of the body.
In the past there has been some concern about the use of foam rollers negatively impacting muscle performance during sport or exercise, as the rolling may cause the muscle tissue to relax. The good news? Studies have shown no change in muscle performance during sport, despite the use of a foam roller before OR after.
The take-home message is that foam rolling can be a beneficial addition to a home stretching or mobility routine. If you’re looking to improve sports performance – foam rolling may not give you the edge that you’re hoping for! But the use of a foam roller could help you to decrease muscle soreness and improve flexibility or joint range of motion. Drop into the clinic to learn more about foam rolling from one of our physiotherapists, or to hear some of our top tips and tricks!