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Benefits of Foam Rolling

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 by thephysiomovement | Categories: Sports Medicine & Nutrition

Foam Rolling is everywhere and If you haven’t already heard about foam rolling, now is your time to jump on board the train!

Foam rolling is the latest craze for all levels of athletes to recover and improve performance. The practice applies different levels of foam density to the muscles providing a form of self massage, trigger point release and myofascial mobility. The harder the roller, the deeper the pressure.

There are many reasons behind foam rolling; not just to give yourself a free massage!

Foam rolling enhances joint range of motion and myofascial mobility.

After foam rolling, knee flexion was seen to improve by 10degrees,  2minutes post rolling, and 8 degrees, 10minutes post quadricep rolling. Similar improvements are noted in hip extension after rolling the anterior thigh, and hip flexion after rolling the hamstring muscles. Therefore, foam rolling would be a beneficial practice to perform prior to a workout, to maximally improve joint range of motion and workout proficiency.

Example: Foam roll the hamstrings prior to a squat workout to increase hip flexion range of motion. (pictured below)

Foam rolling decreases the effects of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), but does not negatively effect muscle performance.

Due to DOMS being caused by damage to connective tissue, continuation of foam rolling can decrease the perception of muscle fatigue and pain levels for up to 30minutes, when used for more than 10minutes post exercise or training. Foam rolling targets the connective tissue, rather than the muscle, therefore has not shown to enhance or change muscle performance measures such as; vertical jumping, sprinting, broad jumping and general muscle activation.

Example: Foam roll the calf muscles after running to decrease DOMS. (pictured below)

So how is Foam Rolling benefiting us?  Well, there are a few reasons.

  1. Due to the pressure applied directly to the skin and fascia (connective tissue that surrounds each muscle), it is thought that range of motion is increased due to the changes in viscoelastic (stretchy-ness) and viscous property of the connective tissue. This occurs when scar tissue and damaged connective tissue is mechanically broken down and remobilised back to its regular gel-like state. Further improved by alterations in muscle spindle length and stretch perception = longer, more stretchy muscles!
  2. Foam rolling creates friction, causing blood flow to increase, hence, intramuscular temperature increase and blood lactate removal = relaxation effects, muscle recovery, oxygen delivery and pain reduction!

How to begin Foam Rolling?

The easiest way to start is adding a quick 5-10minutes to your warmup, or on cooling down after a workout. Next, start adding foam rolling sessions outside of training sessions; a quick 20minute  rollout 2-3 days a week can decrease pain levels and improve joint range of motion for up to 60minutes. Try to spend 30seconds-1minute on each muscle group, and repeat 3-4 times each group (on both sides!), and hang around the spots that hurt the most.

Learn more about TPM 

*Bonus note: Add static stretching (1min holds) to your foam rolling practice for further improvements in range of motion post exercise!

Marissa Seeley – Physiotherapist 

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     517 Flinders Street
Townsville City Qld 4810
     1300 TPM FIT or 4740 4516
     info@thephysiomovement.com.au
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