Foam rollers. How effective are they? How do we best use them? If you could choose between a foam roller and a spikey ball which would you take?
These are all common questions in which we get asked at LiveWell Family Chiropractic so lets tackle them head on.
How Effective are They?
For a lot of people foam rollers are one of the best ways to help alleviate and facilitate muscle recovery. Typically they are used on larger muscle groups including your gluteals, hamstrings, lower back, mid thoracic region and quadriceps. Similarly to stretching foam rollers are predominantly used to help:
1. Increase blood flow to tissues
2. Help lengthen tight and restricted muscles
3. Can help increase flexibility
4. Improve recovery times
How do we best use them?
Foam rolling is similar to stretching, it should be used to supplement your training regime no matter how extensive. Foam rolling isn’t just recommended for those whom have a particular exercise or training goal though, for those who spend extended periods of time seated in front of a computer or even driving, foam rolling is perfect and can help to not only help alleviate the pressure on shortened muscles in through the hips, gluteals and lower back. As a cyclist I find foam rolling extremely beneficial through the illotibial band (ITB) and quadriceps.
Yes, foam rolling can be painful at times, but does that mean we shouldn’t do it? Absolutely not. To reduce your chances of injury or re-injury foam rolling should be used to help reduce pain when applied. Depending on the location of application there are many ways in which you can reduce the amount of tension or load going through the foam roller to make it more comfortable.
Lets start with a simple strategy to help you become comfortable on a foam roller:
1. Start Slow. As stated beforehand foam rolling can be painful particularly in the beginning. So start slowly. Spend just a minute or two on each muscle group with longer strokes or movements through the region can help. At this stage it would also be recommended to use the roller directly after exercise, when you are warming down or when blood flow is heightened. Stretching beforehand can also help to reduce the degree of tenderness felt.
Aim to use for approximately 10-15mins to begin with.
2. When/Timing: For the novice foam roller begin rolling at the end of your workout or after stretching. For those whom are more comfortable with pushing a little through the levels of discomfort then foam rolling can be extremely beneficial a day or two post strenuous exercise or training. For those office workers spending 10mins at the end of each day can be extremely beneficial in allowing your body to recuperate and recover.
3. Duration: Don’t think that there is only a certain amount of time to spend on a foam roller. Personally I often keep the roller close to the couch. Not only does it keep me off sitting in front the TV for prolonged periods but it also helps to distract me whilst working through my legs and lower back.
Spikey Ball vs Foam Roller
So the question begs. If I could only have one, which would I pick? Personally both have their own specific uses and depending on the location of regions in which you would use them for would dictate which I would refer too. Spikey balls are more commonly used for smaller areas and more for trigger point release rather than muscle lengthening. Spikey balls are also great to isolate and get into those hard to reach areas such as upper trapezius, deltoid and interscapular regions just to name a few.
So in summary Foam Rolling when utilised effectively can help maintain, sustain and improve muscle repair and dysfunction. When thrown in conjunction with a stretching regime muscular aches and pain can potentially be reduced significantly. Start off my going over larger muscle groups to begin using longer stroke patterns. Aim for 10-15mins directly after exercise to begin with two to three times a week, increasing frequency and duration over time.
We are currently offering a bonus spikey ball valued at $15 with all foam roller sales.
Whilst Stock Lasts.
For any other questions please do not hesitate to call us on (03) 9995 8164 for more tips and advice on how to get the most out of your foam roller.