Foam Rolling for sore and tight muscles

The latest hot topic in the fitness industry seems to be the benefits of foam rolling. Many individuals involved in sport, exercise, and/or fitness are using self-myofascial release (SMR) using a foam roller, which restores muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, and soft-tissue extensibility. Tight muscles restrict motion of the joints, and may irritate the nervous system.

The superficial fascia is a soft connective tissue located just below the skin. It wraps and connects the muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels of the body. Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascial system.

Foam rolling and other myofascial release techniques break down adhesions in your muscles and heal the tissue. It also increases blood flow in the area, which transmits more oxygen to the muscles.

What do chiropractors think of foam rolling for muscle pain?

  1. Don’t self-diagnose

When we feel pain, our natural instinct is to massage that spot directly. However, at times the problem may not be coming from the perceived area of pain. Only use the roller on specific muscles, which you have trained. Muscle imbalances in other areas of the body may give rise to pain and yet rolling may not be the correct treatment.

When used for the correct muscles, foam rolling could be a great complementary self-therapy tool. However, if you target the wrong areas, it could do more damage than harm. We as chiropractors often use foam rollers as a supplementary tool during the rehabilitation phases as well as home exercises.

  1. Foam rolling should not cause bruises

Bruising occurs when an injury causes tiny blood vessels called capillaries to burst, and the blood gets trapped below the skin’s surface.

Bruising as a result of foam rolling however is not normal and you’re most likely applying too much pressure on that region if you see this.

  1. Mind your posture

Some positions used for foam rolling are quite tricky and for the weaker person they could cause problems, especially if you are weak or tired.

For rolling the ilio tibial band on the lateral thigh, almost all your body weight will be on your one supporting arm. Possible shoulder problems can ensue.

Rolling the quads is basically the plank position. It’s easy to let your form deteriorate, especially if you are tired after a run. Your pelvis might drop unless you engage your abs when rolling the quads or your hips may sag while working the IT band.

Consider setting up your smartphone to videotape yourself while foam rolling, That way, you can see what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, like sagging in the hips or contorting the spine.