Do you know someone who is experiencing sore or tight muscles and looking for an inexpensive therapeutic tool? Foam rollers may be beneficial. A foam roller is simply a cylindrical piece of extruded hard-celled foam. They usually come in one-foot or three-foot lengths. One of the variations is the half roll. They are flat on one side and are often used by beginners. For densities, they could either be low density rollers or high density rollers. High density rollers are more durable and are a good choice for people who are not severely deconditioned and not in acute pain.
Foam rollers are most effective when used as part of your daily stretching therapy. A roller should be used before and after activity, and always roll before you stretch. This will help to warm up cold muscles and prepare them for deeper and more aggressive stretching. To use a foam roller correctly, start by placing your body on the roller and slowly roll up and down the sore muscle. If you find a knot or tight band, hold that spot and try to feel the tissue release and soften underneath the pressure. If an area is very painful when using the roller, rest assured that as the tissue starts to loosen up you should be able to roll with less pain.
Foam rollers are a form of self-massage. Massage is effective at mobilizing soft tissue such as muscles, neural tissue, fascia and tendons. It’s similar to stretching, but because you’re applying pressure to an isolated area, you’re able to focus the mobilization on a specific spot. Rollers assist in breaking adhesions within and between muscles and fascia, and accessing areas that are difficult to treat with conventional stretches. Commonly treated areas are the neck, back, hip, leg or even the full body. The end result is increased flexibility and more normal movement patterns. Foam rollers can be beneficial for sleep issues, headaches or stress relief.
At the SpineOne Rehabilitation Programs, all of our clients are introduced to the use of foam rollers at some point in their program. Since rollers are adaptable for any skill level, they have been proven beneficial in our efforts to teach our clients self-management of their pain conditions. It is important to have proper instruction prior to starting a foam roller program. To learn more, contact our professionals at SpineOne.
Contributors – Roy Mena, Spine Exercise Specialist
Amy Posada, PTA, CSCS, Spine Exercise Specialist