Yours In Healing
by Dr. Rachel Lys, DPT
Have You Foam Rolled Yet Today?
A physical therapist’s favorite toy, the dreaded foam roller, should also be your favorite toy. If you are not using one give it a try. I highly recommend you get your hands on one and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
A foam roller device is a self- massaging tool that has so many benefits for your health. This tool may be cumbersome, but it is relatively low in cost and a wise investment for every one’s body.
A foam roller is used to soothe tight muscles, relieve sore areas, release tension and speed up muscle recovery, it can prevent some over use injuries, and lower overall stress levels in the body.
There are many reason to use a foam roller some of which are as follows:
1.) To improve flexibility and increase joint active range of motion. Foam rolling prior to exercise is being shown to have a functional increase in a joints flexibility following activity. Stretching and yoga class is not the only way to improve flexibility.
2.) To improve circulation. Blood carries oxygen cells throughout the body which are crucial in your overall health. Myofascial release helps improve circulation by breaking up tight areas where blood flow may become restricted.
3.) To reduce Stress. The foam roller releases stress in the muscles post exercise. Lowering the level of cortisol in the muscle tissues themselves causes them tissue break down after a strenuous workout.
4.) To reducing exercise-related soreness. DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness can happen to any one not just athletes. DOMS is the pain and stiffness in your muscles that can set in 24-48 hours after a workout. When you use the foam roller post work out the tenderness and fatigue felt in the large muscle groups cane be reduced by half the intensity. DOMS if left untreated will resolve on its own however repeated episodes of DOMS can cause tissue break out and injury which can side line your exercise plans.
Basic guidelines for how to use a foam roller:
It will be uncomfortable if you have muscle tension which is one of the main reasons to use a foam roller. Work through the discomfort as long as you do not feel sharp stabbing pain.
One of the biggest mistakes made when using the foam roller is improper shoulder alignment. Listen to your body if it hurts your wrist go down onto your forearm. If it hurts your shoulder it could mean many things one being your rotator cuff is compromised. Realign your arm by pulling your elbow closer to your body and continue to foam roll. If your shoulder still causes you pain add padding from something like a yoga matt underneath your forearm. If your shoulder still causes you pain, then you should seek medical attention and stop using the foam roller.
There are many different muscles to treat on the foam roller in both your upper and lower body. An experienced health profession can assist you in proper body positioning if you are at all uncomfortable or intimidated to begin using this great piece of equipment.
In general, you want to spend 3 minutes rolling out each muscle group that you are targeting when you are using a foam roller. Pre work out you should be spending 9-12 minutes on the foam roller and post work out you should be spending 12-15 minutes again on the foam roller. These are rough guidelines designed to keep you our of injury and playing your game or sport of choice.
As always, yours in Healing,
Dr. Rachel Lys, DPT