You may have heard about, seen or even experienced a love/hate relationship with a foam roller.
So, what is a foam roller?
A foam roller is a piece of equipment that is used to release tight tissue (myofascial release). It can be used on many muscles and areas including the iliotibial band (ITB), buttock, adductors, quadriceps, hip flexors, calf, hamstrings, shoulder region and thoracic spine. The release work is done by rolling the foam roller under the desired area until a tender spot is found, and maintaining pressure on and around the tender area until it releases.
Which one is right for me?
A foam roller comes in various sizes. The long, cylindrical foam rollers are what we find to be the most versatile. There are a variety of foam roller densities as well. People who have just started using a roller, or those who have very tight muscles or severe trigger points may need to start with a softer density. Often the colour of the roll can help to distinguish the density. White ones are usually softer, while the blue ones are harder.
Before you start, it is best to discuss with your Bend + Mend Physiotherapist if the foam roller is suitable for you, and to ensure that your technique is correct. Generally, they should only be performed if they do not bring on or increase your pain (although they can be quite uncomfortable to use if you are tight!).
How do I use it?
Here are two videos that explain different ways of how you can use your foam roller. There are a multitude of exercises that can be done on the roller, therefore these videos are not exhaustive. Your Physio can also guide you with the exercises that are best for you and certain progressions if required.
Check out this video for techniques to release muscles of the lower limb and the thoracic spine:
Then check out this video for techniques to release the thoracic spine and shoulder region: