Feeling tight before your training session – then you might try foam rolling or self-massage which is now being used to ease tension in the muscles, mainly used on the leg muscles before a warm up or after the workout to help improve recovery. At present there does not seem a best time to use this technique, in rehabilitation it may be used a few times a day to roll over knotted or tense muscles or even if you were feeling stiff after a day’s work in the office then the use of the roller could help.
Runners are becoming more aware of this foam roller technique and are now using it after a training session; it is a technique that will work for most people regardless of the sports practiced. The technique has been used extensively on the lower body easing tension on the illiotibial band, glutei muscles, hamstrings and calf muscles. You can use it on the arms and back you just have to get into a few different positions on the roller. But Be Safe, it may not be a good technique for you to use, so take advice on its use.
Two techniques that are commonly used with the foam roller
- Laying the muscle involved on the roller and slowly moving your bodyweight forward and backwards over the length of the muscle.
- Using the foam roller rather like a trigger point release technique where if one part of the muscle is tight, holding this part on the roller for a period of time to release the muscle tension.
With the development of foam rollers you can now buy them with varying densities or firmness. There is no grading system which can make it a little difficult at first to get the right density as different manufacturers may only market one particular type so ask around to see if someone has one you can try out. The softer foam rollers are safer to start with but a seasoned runner or athlete might prefer a firmer roller.
While the technique of foam rolling can help immensely, there have been times when people have used it for the wrong reasons. Using it over an injury to the muscle will be contraindicated and using it to roll over the Illiotibial band (ITB) when there is an underlying muscle issue like a weak glute, causing the ITB to tense up. The ITB is not very elastic and research suggests it will only stretch a very small amount. Care has to be taken into consideration in these circumstances as foam rolling could make the condition worse.
Can a roller to be too hard for a muscle?
We have to be careful that the foam rolling is helping the muscles and not causing damage. We don’t have all the answers at the moment but gong harder on the roller may not always be a good thing.
Remember If you have any medical conditions always seek advice before using.
Where is there a supplier in the UK