Stop! Before You Use A Foam Roller Read This
By Lauren Howard
Foam rollers (sometimes referred to as SMR - Self Myofascial Release) are all the rage at gyms at the moment – but often misused! Has anybody told you what they’re for and how they can benefit you? If not, read on.
What are they?
They come in a variety of sizes of length and diameter, some with bobbly bits on, some smooth. They are made of dense foam and are cylinder shape to facilitate the ‘rolling’.
What are they used for?
The idea behind them is they stretch out tight, over active muscles. Ideally they should be used on parts of the body that are overactive and are affecting your movement patterns. They’re not merely there as a substitute for a warm-up, although they can stimulate blood flow which will aid a warm up. They work particularly well on releasing adhesions found in fascia, which is a type of connective tissue that works alongside your muscles. These restrictions are part of what can negatively affect your performance, thus leading to a potential injury.
Here at Peak Performance we utilise the foam rollers as part of the preparatory stage before a training session. We prescribe it to clients on an individual basis. One client may have over-active quads & hip flexors which will affect their squatting technique, so these will be 'rolled’, whereas another client may have an over active latissimus dorsi (lats) which is causing excessive forward lean of the torso. Foam rollers act as inhibitors. They also help prepare the muscle to allow a masseuse to get deeper into the tissue & to prepare a muscle to get a better stretch.
How do we actually use them?
You may see people in the gym just rolling backwards and forwards over them – they’re not getting the full benefits! Ideally you will apply the pressure on a tight/sore bit using your bodyweight only. Hold on this area for about 20-30 seconds and then roll further up the muscle until you get to another tight/sore spot, and repeat as before. Use them as part of your preparation to get the optimum results!
If you would like to know more about how foam rolling can benefit you or to find out the best techniques to use for you specifically then please get in touch!