Foam rolling: Is it effective?

Foam rolling is a mobility exercise that targets myofascial tissue. Myofascial tissue is the tough membrane that wraps, connects, and supports muscles throughout the body.

Foam rollers are considered a self-myofascial release tool. As part of your movement preparation, rollers are used to improve both blood flow to the muscles and increase muscle and tissue flexibility. These rollers are also used in cool-down routines to decrease post-exercise soreness, and muscle and joint tightness.

This tool can be effective for many muscles, including calves, hamstrings, tensor fascia latae and IT band, thoracic spine, and lats. 

The benefits

Understanding the benefits of rolling is important when you consider incorporating them into your day-to-day routine. When done correctly it will:

  • Improve muscle and tissue flexibility
  • Improve joint mobility 
  • Decrease muscle soreness 
  • Improve tissue recovery 
  • Improve blood flow (circulation) 

How to use a foam roller

The first step is to position your targeted muscle/joint on top of the roller. Then slowly roll the tissue back and forth on the roller in this selected area. During this movement, you you may notice specific areas of the muscle that feel more sore or tight. These are the areas you will want to focus rolling on. 

During this movement, you may notice specific areas of the muscle that feel more sore or tight. These are the areas you will want to focus rolling on. You should strive to reach a point of mild discomfort but not pain, as rolling too intensely can bruise your muscles. During use, you can experiment with different body positioning to find the technique that works best for you.

Foam rolling versus percussion massage instruments? 

We often get asked if foam rolling outweighs the benefits of using a percussion massage instrument – like Theragun or Hypervolt – or vice versa. 

Both tools help to release muscle tension by targeting myofascial tissues. Foam rolling requires manual pressure and works over more general areas of the body, whereas massage guns utilize percussion treatment that can provide relief to specific areas of the muscle. Both are excellent choices, depending on what feels best on your body, the area of the body you want to target, and the tools available to you.  

Foam rolling at MAVEN

We have seen the benefits that foam rolling has had on our clients. Our therapists will often incorporate these techniques during movement preparation and cool-down routines to help clients feel their best both pre- and post-session. It is also commonly added to our patients’ MedBridge home exercise programs as part of their home care plan. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the advantage of self-myofascial release tools and how to use them!