For the last decade foam rolling has increased in popularity, popping up in health clubs, sports clubs and promoted in sports stores up and down the country. But what is the real benefit of these instruments of torture? To fully understand the benefits of a foam roller, it will help to give you a brief introduction into the science behind it. The body operates within a series of interlinking systems including soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia), neural (nerves) and articular (joints). These systems rely heavily on each other to function efficiently. If one is not performing optimally there is a tendency to overcompensate with the others, leading to tissue overload, fatigue and faulty movement patterns which tend to lead to injury.
When we exercise we cause micro trauma to the muscle, which will initiate a protective healing response, this process is necessary for improvements in muscle strength, however when we overdo things through overtraining and poor stretching regimes the micro trauma happens more frequently and without adequate recovery time further damage occurs where the body is unable to keep up with the repair process. The tissue that replaces the damaged structure is an inelastic collagen which lays down in a haphazard fashion, creating a patch, this is often described as a “knot” or “scar tissue”. The new tissue no longer aligns with the original fibres which affects the ability to lengthen efficiently. When trying to stretch a muscle with scar tissue there will be resistance which will prevent the fibres from moving properly. When these restrictions occur the body will try to adapt and movement compensations will be inevitable. Continued compensations may lead to further muscle imbalance and injury.
Benefits of a Foam Roller
• Correction of muscle imbalances
• Increases in joint range of motion
• Decreased muscle soreness
• Relieves joint stress
• Decreases neuromuscular hypertonicity (increased tension in the muscles)
• increased extensibility of the neuromuscular junction
• increased neuromuscular efficiency
• Maintenance of normal functional muscular length
What is The Foam Roller?
The foam roller is a cylindrical piece of extruded hard celled foam, which typically comes in a variety of lengths and densities. It is designed to allow self massage to maintain optimal tissue length and maintain function. Regular foam rolling as part of traditional soft tissue management strategies have been found to increase tissue flexibility, reduce feelings of fatigue, and reduce the risk of injury. The traditional hard foam roller is suitable for beginners and individuals with low muscle mass/density, the more complex rollers i.e The Grid is more suited to the experienced exerciser, including individuals who have used foam rollers in the past and are looking for that extra challenge.
The GRID foam roller is designed with proprietary Distrodensity zones. This three dimensional surface has a variety of widths to replicate the feeling of a massage therapist’s hands.
• Three-dimensional surface allows tissue to aerate while you roll, promoting the flow of blood and oxygen—the nutrients needed to repair muscles
• Hard, hollow core hand-wrapped in EVA foam makes it firmer than traditional foam rollers
• Environmental design uses less foam than traditional foam rollers
• Compact and travel-friendly
The use of a foam roller should be hard work, and is often painful, however the pain should not cause injury and you should not incur bruising. The individual can control the depth and intensity. Ensure you start light and as you warm up you can deepen the pressure. If you are unsure about anything contact your local run4it store and Sports Injury Scotland and we will be happy to advise you further.