How to Get the Most out of Foam Rolling
Foam rolling has been around a long time but over the past few years it has seen a massive surge in popularity, it’s now common place to see people foam rolling in the gym or in the dressing room before a game. We are often asked in the clinic “How does it work? How do I do it?” and “Is it worth doing?” For that reason, we’ve decided to write a blog post to answer your questions.
How Does it Work?
Foam rolling was initially developed as a type of self-massage aiming to increase blood flow to the area and thus promote tissue healing and muscle recovery. Others think that it works by breaking down adhesions in muscles – however, this is unlikely to be true. If it were that easy to break down adhesions in muscle we would all be in a heap on the floor from performing most manual tasks.
The most plausible explanation for how foam rolling works is that it causes temporary relaxation of the muscle which in turn allows us to work into a deeper stretch or perform exercises through a greater range.
How do I do it?
Typically, we recommend foam rolling an area for 30-60s and to follow it up with a stretch or mobility exercise. This can vary depending on the size of the area you’re targeting or your current level of mobility but you can repeat this 2-3 times on an area. How much pressure you use is entirely up to yourself – everyone’s tolerance is dependent on individual factors. There is no need for the “no pain, no gain” attitude as research has shown similar effects when foam rolling to 50%, 70% and 90% tolerance.
How you implement foam rolling can vary depending on the area you are targeting and whether you have a specific injury. We always recommend you follow your therapist’s advice.
There are times when foam rolling isn’t advisable such as in the early stages after sustaining a dead leg or muscle strain.
Is it worth doing?
The short answer is – Yes!
Foam rolling has been linked to reduced muscle soreness and increased range of motion. It is an excellent addition to training and rehabilitation programmes but works best in combination with other mobility & strength exercises. Not to mention a foam roller is a relatively cheap and convenient piece of equipment.