Foam rolling has gained popularity as a way of reducing muscle tension, regaining flexibility and even developing strength of the core muscle groups.
It can be used as a warm up sequence and to activate muscles before a work out or training session, or as a post training recovery strategy and to cool down. It can also be used to mobilise stiff areas of the spine, reduce muscle tension and to improve posture.
By using your own body weight on a foam roller, it is theorised that the compression of muscles and soft tissues in a smooth rolling manner has a similar effect to massage, reducing muscle tension and mobilising the connective tissue between the skin and the muscle and the tissue around the muscle(myofascia). It may assist to improve circulation, lymphatic drainage and reduce muscle knots and adhesions(sticking points between different layers of connective tissue).
It may also assist to reduce fatigue post exercise(1).
Summary of benefits of foam rolling
- Reduces muscle tension pre and post exercise.
- Improves muscle recovery and soreness post exercise(2).
- Improves joint range of movement/mobility of spine and other large joints(eg, hip, knee, shoulders, ankles)(2).
- Assists with reduction of fatigue post exercise(1).
- Can be used as a tool for increasing strength and control of trunk muscles.
- Can used to improve posture.
Video 2: Improving back and upper body mobility with a foam roller
This video goes through a sequence of releases through the shoulders, neck and upper back.
Great for those of us who sit at a desk most of the day.
- Healy KC, Hatfield DL et al. (2014). The Effects of Myofascial Release with Foam Rolling on Performance. J Strength Conditioning Res 28(1):61-68.
- Cheatham SW, Kolber MJ et al (2015): The effects of myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint rang of motion, muscle recovery and performance: A sytematic review.
Int J Sports Phys 10(6): 827-838