Physiotherapists often prescribe the use of a foam roller for a variety of different injuries. It’s usually quite uncomfortable while rolling, but after gives a great feeling of space and mobility.
How does it work its magic? Most people use it based on the principle that it helps roll out fascia. Fascia is connective tissue in the body that acts like plastic wrap separating and connecting layers of tissues, and it cannot be stretched. Not only does the roller attack the fascia, it actually targets many different tissues under the skin.
With muscle and skin, it pushes water out of the way and in doing so creates a vacuum to pull more into the area. You won’t be building muscle with this technique, but it will keep fluids moving, bringing new blood to help with repair or just to keep the tissues fresh. With the nerves, it offers a brand new sensation that can help wake up the area and get the brain to pay a bit more attention to that spot. Finally, it helps by melting the increased tension in the fascia to help the body move a little freer with less resistance.
The IT band is a band of fascia that runs from the outside of the hip to the knee and it is the usual target for the roller, but it’s possible to use it on many different areas. Rolling out the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes can also be of benefit. It can also be used for stretching the pectorals and the front of the shoulders by lying on it length-wise from head to tailbone and putting arms into a T. When rolling, slowly move over the tissue, hanging on one tender spot for a few seconds only before continuing for a total of 30-60 seconds in each location. It should be uncomfortable, not painful, and shouldn’t make you feel any worse after.
The foam roller is a good tool to have in your toolbox for both injury management and prevention. If you are looking to add one to your exercise equipment collection, or have any questions about how to use it, stop by Physiologix and we’ll help you get started.