Total Therapy Blog
Healthy Community Seminar – Foam Rolling 101
This article was contributed by Jordy Shumay. Jordy is Registered Kinesiologist with the BC Association of Kinesiologists. He has a Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary, as well as a Masters of Science in Kinesiology from A. T. Still University of Health Sciences.
“Determining an appropriate level of fitness and functionality for my clients is paramount to helping them achieve optimal movement patterns. The methods used to improve weaknesses, imbalances, or correct dysfunctions is accomplished through dedication to research, development, and application of the most current scientifically-based practices. Returning my clients to fully functional movements and beyond is the ultimate goal.” – Jordy Shumay, BKin
Foam rolling is a method of muscle release that has been growing in popularity over the past few years. This method is sometimes referred to as self-myofascial release due to the fascial lines being lengthened during the process. These terms are not common to the everyday person, so all that really has to be known is that foam rolling has the potential to lengthen or ‘stretch’ a tense muscle.
These tools are often found made of hard Styrofoam or plastic tubing covered in a dense rubber material. Anyone from elite athletes to rehabilitation clients may find a use for this tool in their training routines or everyday lives. Knowing how to properly use a foam roller in terms of function and timing is important for anyone using this product. Overuse or misuse of this method can cause further damage to a muscle in the repair process.
Foam rolling has been known to correct muscular imbalances, alleviate muscle soreness, relieve joint stress, and improve range of motion. These are all important factors to consider in recovering from a bout of intense exercise. In order for foam rolling to be an effective process after an exercise bout, the muscles that are in use during the exercise routine should be the focus of the foam rolling session as well. This may seem intuitive, however many people who use a foam roller only focus on the muscles that are sore at the time. This may be the correct muscles, but often times it is soreness that is delayed from other training sessions.
Along with correct placement of the foam roller, correct timing is of equal importance when using this tool. It seems common sense to use this tool after an intense exercise routine, but it can also be used prior to exercise to increase movement performance. This is achieved by increasing the range of motion around a joint by lengthening muscles that are associated with it. Therefore, foam rolling can be used before and after exercise if performed correctly.
Using a foam roller has many benefits, but this tool can also be frequently overused. This unnecessary use may lead to further damage of a muscle, rather than performing its true function of relieving muscle tension. In order to avoid this potential problem, you should be sure to not use the foam roller on one particular muscle for more than 30-60 seconds. Frequently moving to other tense muscles and returning to the original muscle is one method to prevent such overuse. Overdoing it with the foam roller can lead to muscle damage, which is the exact opposite function we are trying to achieve during this process.
Whether you are dealing with a nagging muscle injury or excessive tension due to muscular imbalances, foam rolling may be an option for you. Keep in mind that it is not the only method to relieve such issues, proper muscle strengthening, stabilizing, and repair can help improve your musculoskeletal problems. As with any method there are right and wrong ways to perform it, be sure to receive education from a qualified professional before partaking in a foam rolling routine.