Foam rollers help you to apply pressure to certain areas of our body, encouraging the release of muscle tension and other consequent benefits. Both the pressure and the rolling motion applied when using this tool create what’s called a form of self-myofascial release, also known as SMR. This helps to release tension, reduce muscle tightness, and improve overall muscle function. In other words, foam rollers work through applied pressure on soft tissue, stimulating blood flow and loosening tight muscle.
Beyond their main function of enhanced muscle recovery, foam rollers feature a range of other benefits. These may include things like increased flexibility over time and neural stimulation. Rollers are also beloved for their ability to reduce soreness, increase your range of motion, and prevent future injuries!
While certainly effective, foam rolling can also be uncomfortable at times, possibly causing or even amplifying already existing muscle soreness. It’s important to note that feeling soreness after using a foam roller is normal, especially if you are new to this practice or are targeting specific areas of tightness.
Applying pressure to these tense spots may cause a micro trauma response from your body, stimulating its inflammatory response and resulting in muscle soreness. The resulting pain is likely to be like the sensation you get after a tough workout but causes no real harm to your body. Once you adapt to this process, your muscles will grow accustomed to the practice and become less sensitive overtime!
Well, it depends! Sore muscles can definitely benefit from foam rolling at times, but the real answer lies behind the cause of the initial soreness. If it is the result of muscle tightness, rolling can provide relief by releasing the tension and promoting blood flow in the area. If, however, the injury is the result of something like a muscle strain or acute injury, foam rolling may worsen the situation. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing how to listen to our bodies and reach out to healthcare professionals when needed!
When initially using the foam roller on your trigger points, don't be afraid to start slow! Gently massage the area with the roller at your own pace, making sure to target your tissue and apply the right amount of pressure.
All in all, foam rollers are a great habit to integrate into your training routine, both before and after your exercise. By properly learning how to use this tool, you’ll be able to use it in areas of discomfort and adjust things like pressure and intensity as needed!