Foam rolling

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with our foam roller. We feel the benefits of foam rolling in our bodies but it can be so damn painful.

So is it really that good for us? Well… yes. Our Physio Dan sums up the current scientific evidence.

Foam rolling is a method of self-myofascial release that can be used all over the body to improve flexibility. Research (Junker and Stogg 2015) suggests 4 weeks of foam rolling the hamstring three times per week was enough to produce a significant improvement in hamstring flexibility.

Foam rolling has also been shown to decrease muscle soreness after intense exercise (Pearchey et all 2015). The participants in this study foam rolled for 20 minutes immediately after a bout of intense exercise and then again 24 and 48 hours after. They experienced significantly less muscle soreness compared with a control group. Researchers believe foam rolling may trigger a release of the pain relieving hormone oxytocin.

Chan (2015) found that self-myofascial treatment, in addition to home exercises, was found to reduce cortisol levels and increase heart rate variability. This indicates an activation of the para-sympathetic nervous system, crucial to healing, optimal recovery and decreasing stress.

Conclusion:

  • Using a foam roller regularly will keep your musculoskeletal system healthy.
  • Aim to use your foam roller on a daily basis, spending 1-2 minutes before a workout and 10-20 minutes after an intense bout of exercise to improve your flexibility, reduce soreness and improve recovery times. Rolling the upper back every day can help maintain spinal flexibility.
  • To find out more about how to get the most out of your foam roller, please ask your physiotherapist.

Written by Daniel O’Grady. Physiotherapist at Active Bodies Physiotherapy, Adelaide.

Daniel O’Grady

Daniel O’Grady

Senior Physiotherapist