Health & Lifestyle

The Benefits of a Foam Roller

The Benefits of a Foam Roller

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.

Pamela Andrews

Pamela Andrews MSc ST MSST NASM CPT, is the owner and founder of Sports Injury Scotland. She has extensive research and hands-on experience in sport, and is currently working on her PhD. Her whole ethos focuses on the importance of implementing the most up-to-date scientific research into each individual assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. This ensures that the treatment they receive is tailored to suit the individual and the best possible for them. She also feels that it is vital as a therapist to continually develop not only practical skills but the knowledge to become a successful therapist. She enjoys taking part in regular exercise, so understands the implications pain has on the ability to perform your sport to your full potential, and also the psychological impact of not being able to undertake your particular sport. She recently completed her first marathon in Berlin, so is able to fully appreciate the impact marathon training can have on the body.

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