You may have noticed a slightly denser, thicker, pool noodle-looking item on the gym floor…This is called a foam roller. It is a pretty basic piece of apparatus, but pretty damn effective!
A foam roller is used to do self myofasical release, another word for self massage. This can be really helpful in releasing tight muscles in the body and muscle trigger points or ‘knots’ which can create areas of pain or tension. Trigger points in a muscle can arise from numerous things that we do during the day. Whether it is sitting with bad posture, or just sitting in the one spot for too long (which generally leads to bad posture!!), or doing repetitive tasks, or doing exercise or sport that the body isn’t used to. What’s more, trigger points can form in certain muscles in the body simply from poor nutrition, dehydration and stress in your life!!
Why do we need to release these trigger points?
Our bodies are remarkably capable at compensating for the things we throw at it each day, although for most people there is a threshold at which we can no longer function comfortably. When there is too much imbalance in the bodies muscular structure we being to feel pain.
How does the foam roller do these magical things?
The foam roller, similar to massage, encourages oxygen and blood flow to the area and can be done on a regular basis. This helps to break up the ‘knots’ in the muscle which does not happen with stretching alone. In time, it will help to restore normal muscle function and allow you to return to peak performance!
The foam roller can be used quite effectively on the legs and upper back, though it is highly recommended that someone shows you how to use it first. It is easy to get tangled up and in quite awkward and painful positions if you are not using it correctly!
The foam roller should always be used in-conjunction with Physio advice if you are experiencing pain, so you know that it is the best option for the cause of your pain.
All of our Physios at Bend + Mend are well equipped to show you how to use a foam roller. You may even see the odd Physio rolling around on one on our studio floor!